An exploratory study of South African women’s experiences of In Vitro Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer (IVE-ET) at fertility clinics


Infertility is considered to be a growing problem worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, at least 20%-50% of couples of reproductive age experience a fertility problem and 30% are diagnosed with infertility. This study explores the experiences of women in South Africa who are involuntary childless and explores their psychological and emotional experiences of In Vitro Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer (IVF-ET). Utilising a qualitative methodology, a diverse group of 21 married women diagnosed with infertility and who had undergone at least two cycles of IVF-ET were recruited. Semi-structured, in-depth individual interviews were conducted and the data were analysed using thematic analysis. The results of the study indicated that the women perceived themselves as not conforming to a dominant belief system and as a result felt compelled to explore all the medical options available. They reported emotional turmoil characterised by primary binary emotions of anxiety-excitement and nervousness-optimistic. These emotions were experienced throughout the five stages of the IVF-ET treatment cycles. A synopsis of the psychological and emotional responses to the IVF-ET treatment is discussed. The findings of this study suggest the need for the incorporation of a mandatory psychosocial intervention as part of infertility management. Greater attention to the psychological and emotional repercussions of infertility treatment could lead to a more personalised client-approach which, in turn, would prepare infertile women and couples for the emotional demands of the treatment.

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Pedro, A. and Mwaba, K. (2013) An exploratory study of South African women’s experiences of In Vitro Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer (IVE-ET) at fertility clinics. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3, 470-478. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2013.38063.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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