The experiences of couples with infertility: A phenomenological study of infertility treatment participants

Daniel Welch McDonald, Tennessee State University


One out of six American couples are faced with infertility. There have been several studies which examine how women respond to infertility and infertility treatment. How men respond to infertility or infertility treatment has not been studied. Utilizing a phenomenological case study design this study examined the experiences of four couples receiving treatment for infertility in a Southeast infertility clinic. The participants in this study were carefully recruited to represent "typical" couples in infertility treatment. An analysis of joint interviews revealed 15 principal categories representing concerns of the couples. The couples described having a array of physical, emotional, social, grief, relationship, and spiritual consequences due to infertility treatment. In contrast to previous research, there did not appear to be large gender differences in how couples faced decision making, in motivations for treatment, or in individual coping strategies. Women reported more pervasive and negative effects on career development and in lifestyle changes. Areas not addressed by previous research which had serious impact for the participants include spiritual conflicts and family expectations. Implications of the study in light of previous research are discussed. A future research effort recommended is to use multiple researchers across several sites to examine discrepant and convergent cases.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Obstetrics|Gynecology|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Daniel Welch McDonald, "The experiences of couples with infertility: A phenomenological study of infertility treatment participants" (1998). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI9907854.