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The meaning and lived experience of permanent childlessness as a result of infertility Hood, Leslie

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine infertile couples' subjective experience of permanent childlessness after they elected not to pursue other parenting options. This study involved the secondary analysis of data from a phenomenological study exploring the transition to biological childlessness for infertile couples (Daniluk et al., 1996). In that study, a qualitative phenomenological methodology was used to guide the data collection and analysis. Data were gathered through four unstructured, in-depth interviews over a period of three years with a volunteer sample of nine infertile couples from different regions in Canada. Participants were between the ages of 29 and 48 when the study began. All couples had ended infertility treatment and considered their childlessness to be permanent. To explore the lived experience of permanent childlessness after failed infertility treatment, the data were analyzed according to Colaizzi's (1978) method of phenomenological data analysis. Seven common themes emerged, which included the following experiences: (a) a need to protect themselves; (b) a sense of lessening emotional intensity; (c) a sense of regaining control; (d) a need to revision life and identity; (e) a sense of appreciation for the strength of their relationship; (f) a sense of recognition and reconciliation to their fate; (g) a need to make sense of their experience. These findings led to specific recommendations for future research, as well as implications for the counselling profession with respect to working with infertile couples.

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