Male reactions during infertility treatment as interpreted by their female partners

Zsofia Bauer, Corvinus University of Budapest and Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS)

As having children is considered an almost inherent stage in family development, the inability to have children can be considered as a crisis on both a family and an individual level, which requires the couples to cope as individuals and as a family unit. The number of couples facing involuntarily childlessness is likely to continue increasing in the future, among others due to the shift to later in life childbearing and a growing number of health related problems of both sexes. Thus, a significant and increasing segment of the Hungarian population is dealing with these problems and is faced with taking part in treatments which employ reproductive technologies that have the potential to help them, but may carry financial, physical, psychological and other costs that the couples have to cope with as a family. Present research (funded by OTKA-K108981) aims to look at the male responses through the interpretations of their female partners from a changing gender role perspective. During the long and taxing course of assisted reproduction, the traditional gender roles intertwined with pregnancy change, whilst requiring new types of attitudes and reactions from both male and female partners. Through the investigation of online Internet fora interpretations of these new male responses can be constructed through women’s discourses, relying on the tools and techniques of grounded theory. This unique research design permitted studying the discourse of the participants in a natural, non-controlled environment, where the presence of the researcher had no influence on the results, bypassing problems reported by earlier researches regarding occurring biases with individual or couple interviews. Results imply to what type of attitude and coping mechanisms serve best for maintaining the family unit and the well-being of the partner relationship during this stressful life event. Theory constructed analyzes these behaviors emerging from changed gender roles.

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Presented in Session 11: Gender, sexuality and reproductive health