Women's views of involuntary childlessness: An exploratory study

Denise E. McCarthy (1988)

Millions of married women, and untold numbers of single women face involuntary childlessness. The empirical literatures of infertility and hysterectomy address the deleterious effects of these medical conditions on women, but have ignored the broader issue of involuntary childlessness. The anecdotal and clinical literature describes individual women's reactions to infertility, and clearly points to the presence of loss and grief, phenomena bypassed in the empirical literature. This exploratory study bridges the empirical, anecdotal and clinical literatures. A structured interview explores women's experience of involuntary childlessness and provides personal biographies. The responses to the following research questions are discussed: (1) Do infertile women experience a sense of loss? and, (2) Do women experience grief in response to their infertility? Clinical implications and suggestions for future research are presented.