Socio-cultural Perceptions of Infertility and their Implications:A study of Women Experiencing Childlessness in South Gondar, Ethiopia
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Infertility is a global problem affecting a considerable number of people. However, perceptions on the causes and treatments of infertility vary across societies. This study was conducted to assess the socio-cultural perceptions of infertility and the implications of these perceptions on the lives of childless women in South Gondar, Ethiopia. The study specifically focuses on exploring the perceived causes and treatments of infertility from the perspectives of childless individuals, religious leaders, and community members. It also examines the experience of childless women, their coping strategies to the problem, and the socio-economic and emotional consequences of childlessness. Data was collected through in-depth interviews with 17 childless women and 2 childless men, semi-structured interviews with a nurse and a doctor, a group interview with religious leaders, and 3 focus groups with community members. The data was analysed using three bodies approach", social stigma theory" and coping theory." From the perceptions of childless individuals and community members, this study found out that there is limited level of awareness about the medical causes of and solutions to infertility. It was found out that besides the severe stigmatization on childless women, childlessness has socio-economic and emotional consequences. Childless women are not passive victims as they have developed different coping strategies to seek solutions for their childlessness and to deal with stigma. Based on the major findings, the study recommends the importance of raising public awareness on the medical causes of and treatments to infertility, incorporating infertility treatments as maternal health component, and planning old-age security programs.