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'Zero is not good for me': implications of infertility in Ghana

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Human Reproduction
Issue number5
Volume27
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)1383-1390
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Given the high value placed on children in sub-Saharan Africa, previous research suggests that infertility increases the risk of psychological distress and marital conflict, encourages risky sexual behavior and deprives infertile individuals and couples of an important source of economic and social capital. This paper explores the implications of infertility for women in Ghana, West Africa.

METHODS: Semi-structured interview data collected from 107 women (aged 21-48 years, mean 33 years) seeking treatment in gynecological and obstetric clinics in Accra, Ghana, are analyzed. Based on iterative open coding of the interviews, the focus of the analysis is on mental health, marital instability, social interaction and gendered experiences.

RESULTS: Infertile women report facing severe social stigma, marital strain and a range of mental health difficulties. Many women feel that they shoulder a disproportionate share of the blame for infertility and, by extension, face greater social consequences than male partners for difficulties conceiving. Women who do not self-identify as infertile corroborate these findings, asserting that the social consequences of infertility are severe, particularly for women.

CONCLUSIONS: Infertility in Ghana has important consequences for social interactions, marital stability and mental health. These consequences are not perceived to be shared equally by Ghanaian men.