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Title: Experiences of the early 'infertility journey' : an ethnography of couples commencing infertility investigations and treatment
Author: Mounce, Ginny
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 3233
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2017
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Infertility is a significant life event affecting around one in seven couples in the UK. The development of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) such as In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) have encouraged the idea that infertility can, and should, be treated. By seeking medical attention to overcome this condition, couples are understood to have begun an ‘infertility journey’. The study aim was to investigate the experiences of couples starting infertility investigations and treatments. Using an ethnographic methodology with a longitudinal design, involving iterative rounds of observation and interviews with the same participants. The findings show couples were resistant to becoming fertility patients and starting treatments, and this was often connected to the meaning that infertility had for them. The discomfort and challenge of this transition, previously described as ‘mazing’, was not always recognised or fully appreciated by the healthcare staff involved with the couples. ARTs are becoming ubiquitous and this has increased the mazing undertaken by couples because of the necessity for multiple treatment cycles. The commercialisation of fertility treatments, often including payment for cycles, is also unhelpful for couples’ decision-making. Couples are jointly involved in negotiating treatments and future planning, but clinics focus almost exclusively on the female partner. The ‘journey’ retains its open-ended quality because treatments, belying their promise and hope, do not usually resolve the uncertainty of infertility. Conclusion Treatments for infertility, including ARTs, are portrayed as straightforward, however this study finds that couples, particularly during the early stages from first GP referral, are reluctant to engage with medical fertility pathways and do not find the processes ‘routine’. By acknowledging this, and showing an interest in the personal and social context of their patients’ infertility, clinical staff can demonstrate they are listening to their patients. Couples may find this altered communication helps improve their experiences of fertility treatments.
Supervisor: Carey, Nicola ; Allan, Helen T. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available