Title page for ETD etd-11202008-073220

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Fontenot, Mary Catherine
Author's Email Address dietitian93@yahoo.com
URN etd-11202008-073220
Title A Phenomenological Study of Couples Who Pursue Infertility and the Impact on Their Lives
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Human Resource Education Workforce Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Krisanna Machtmes Committee Chair
Curt Friedel Committee Member
Joe Kotrlik Committee Member
Michael F. Burnett Committee Member
Robert Mathews Dean's Representative
  • qualitative
  • phenomenological
  • infertility
Date of Defense 2008-07-07
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the lived experience of couples residing in Southeastern Louisiana who were diagnosed with infertility and underwent infertility treatments. The study was a phenomenological qualitative research design, with researcher-developed guiding questions to help direct interviews. The sample was purposeful and was drawn from the patient base of a local endocrinologist. The couples who participated were greater than 18 years of age and had discontinued treatment one year prior to implementation of the study.

Two married couples participated in the study while only the women of the other three couples agreed to be a part of the study. All couples were Caucasian and were considered to be middle-class as all either had some college education or held a bachelor degree or Master of Science degree. A total of seven interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed within 24 hours of conducting the interviews. Confidentiality of the participants was maintained throughout the data collection and analysis process. Two methods were used to analyze the data collected: Moustakas and Van Kaam.

The findings of the study were consistent with the findings of other qualitative studies that have been conducted in the past. All the women participants discussed having feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and frustration. The women also engaged in behaviors that in some way seemed to help preserve their self-esteem. These included focusing on work, removing themselves from gatherings that reminded them of their infertility, and confiding in only a few friends and family. The men, on the other hand, seem to reflect two opposing positions with regards to the impact infertility had on their wives, their lives, and their feelings.

Finally, the final analysis of the research indicated that infertility is a major life crisis that often results in numerous losses. Grieving their losses was a consistent theme that emerged. However, all the participants seemed to be at different stages of the grieving cycle. For those who were able to adopt a child, infertility no longer had any meaning to them.

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