'Half a woman, half a man; that is how they make me feel': a qualitative study of rural Jordanian women's experience of infertility

Cult Health Sex. 2018 May;20(5):516-530. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2017.1359672. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


Infertility is a health problem encompassing physical, psychological and social consequences that may threaten women's quality of life. Few studies have been conducted in Jordan examining rural women's experiences of infertility. This study aimed to explore responses to infertility and its consequences in the Jordanian rural sociocultural context. Using a descriptive qualitative design, data were collected between April and September 2016 from a fertility clinic in a military hospital in Northern Jordan. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 purposively selected Jordanian women. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings revealing women's responses to infertility included: submission and docility, self-isolation, internalisation and persistence in getting pregnant by seeking modern and traditional methods of treatment. The impact of infertility complicated women's everyday living through their experiences of violence, kinship and patriarchal interference, stigma, negative perceptions of the infertile woman, and other's surveillance of their sexuality. Women living in rural areas of Jordan have negative experiences of infertility that are ingrained in sociocultural beliefs about fertility and reproduction. Healthcare professionals are encouraged to raise public awareness about infertility's adverse consequences and to help families by enhancing positive responses to infertility.

Keywords: Infertility; Jordan; docility; patriarchy; stigma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / psychology*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Jordan
  • Perception*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Rural Population*
  • Social Isolation*
  • Social Stigma*