Women’s Experiences and Preferences in Relation to Infertility
Counselling: A Multifaith Dialogue
Religion and spirituality are a fundamental part of culture and influence how individuals experience and interpret infertility counselling. Thus far, little research has examined the influence of religiosity on the experience of infertility, and to our knowledge no study exists investigating the responses of religious infertile women to counselling. In this study we explored Muslim and Christian women’s experiences and preferences with regard to infertility counselling.
Materials and Methods
Using a grounded theory approach, 30 infertile women affiliated to different denominations of Islam (Shiite and Sunni) and Christianity (Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxies) were interviewed. Data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews at fertility clinics in the UK and Iran, and analyzed using the Straussian mode of grounded theory.
Emerging categories included: Appraising the meaning of infertility religiously, applying religious coping strategies, and gaining a faith-based strength. These were encompassed in the core category of ‘relying on a higher being’. Religious infertile women experienced infertility as an enriching experience for spiritual growth. This perspective helped them to acquire a feeling of self- confidence and strength to manage their emotions. Hence, they relied more on their own religious coping strategies and less on formal support resources like counselling services. However, they expected counsellors to be open to taking time to discuss their spiritual concerns in counselling sessions.
In addition to focusing on clients’ psychosocial needs, infertility counsellors should also consider religious and spiritual issues. Establishing a sympathetic and accepting relationship with infertile women will allow them to discuss their religious perspectives, which consequently may enhance their usage of counselling services.