Involuntary childlessness: an exploratory study of men’s perspective on infertility

Sucharita Pujari, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Sayeed Unisa, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

There is hardly any literature in the Indian Context documenting the male experiences of involuntary childlessness. Since infertility management and treatment involves the couple and not just the woman, it was felt imperative to understand men’s perspective on infertility. The present paper is based on a community based research study carried out among childless men in 30 villages of rural Andhra Pradesh in India during the mid of 2006. Primary data based on face to face interviews were collected from 181 childless men on various aspects of infertility. The present paper dwells on the childless men’s knowledge about human fertility; the importance attached to biological fatherhood vis a vis adopted child, and causes of childlessness as perceived by the men. Preliminary results show that over all, close to three quarter men (71.8 percent) posses some knowledge about the biological organs of reproduction. Knowledge about female organs of fertility is better compared to male organs of fertility. Knowledge about the fertile period is very poor (14 percent). Knowledge about what causes abortion and how to safeguard the pregnancy till full term is moderate. There is a negative attitude of childless men towards child adoption. Only 38 of 181 men had adopted a child at the time of interview. Biological child is perceived important for socio cultural reasons. Close to ninety percent of the respondents felt that either man or woman could be the cause of childlessness. A majority stated physiological reasons for infertility followed by superstitious beliefs.Male involvement for an understanding of the development of the male reproductive system and the functioning of the reproductive organs should be integrated in reproductive health programmes.Correct knowledge about infertility should be imparted along with motivating men and their families positively towards child adoption which otherwise is considered a stigma.

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Presented in Poster Session 1