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Biopsychosocial-spiritual experiences of men in fertility treatment seeking couples

Daniel S Felix, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Infertility is a condition that affects people in biological, psychological, social, and even spiritual ways. For some, the inability to have a desired child can lead to psychological distress, poorer emotional well-being, marital conflict, or other problems. For others, however, it is not as negative a stressor, and may in fact provide an opportunity for a couple to draw closer and strengthen their relationship. Although men and women have much in common, socially constructed gender roles and expectations play a significant role in how men and women differ in the ways they think about, discuss, and feel about infertility. Much is known about the influences of infertility on women; however, very little research exists into the social construction of infertility from the male perspective. This exploratory, phenomenological study gathers and analyzes data from interviews with men who have experienced involuntary childlessness with their female partners, and who have sought medical intervention to diagnose and treat this condition. The purpose of this study is to discover what their biopsychosocial-spiritual experiences of infertility really are, from their perspectives. Results comprise three major themes, including 1) infertility is often defined for men by their female partner's experiences, 2) infertility is personally and emotionally difficult for men, and 3) being infertile is a process rather than just a condition or category. Several supporting subthemes are identified and described. Findings are discussed using a theoretical perspective of family stress and adaption to help explain the variability of effects that infertility can have on men. Implications are made for researchers, physicians, therapists, and others providing care, including the need to conduct future research, treatment, and therapy from a chronic versus acute process perspective, and differently than has been done for women because of the unique ways men experience infertility.

Subject Area

Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Felix, Daniel S, "Biopsychosocial-spiritual experiences of men in fertility treatment seeking couples" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3590315.