Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Deborah Walker


Background: Infertility, ranked as the 5th highest global disability, is estimated to impact 180 million couples worldwide. Muslim couples associate parenthood or the ability to have children as an accomplishment in their marriage, adulthood, social status, and security in later life. A failure to conceive in Muslim societies may lead to stigma, social isolation, grief, and despair. There is a gap in the literature on how Muslim women perceive, understand, and cope with infertility in the U.S. This knowledge gap limits the ability in to understand how social, religious, and cultural practices impact a diagnosis of infertility on Muslim American women. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe and capture the meaning of the lived experiences of Muslim women with infertility. Two research questions were employed to obtain this knowledge: 1) What is the lived experience of second-generation infertility Muslim American women with infertility? and 2) To what extent do sociocultural and religious factors impinge on the decision to seek treatment in reproductive health? Methods: This qualitative study used van Manen’s phenomenological method to examine the lived experience of Muslim American women with infertility. Twelve participants were recruited through social media post on Facebook and through snowball sampling. Data were collected through demographic data sheet and interviews. All interviews were informal semi-structured in-depth responsive interviewing style. Two interviews were conducted. Opened ended and informal conversation allowed the investigator to gain the participants trust and allowed them to move the interview. The interview began with the following open-ended questions or grand tour questions, “what was it like to discover that you were having difficulties becoming pregnant”. The second interview was used as a follow-up to ask additional questions that remained unanswered from the first interview, to clarify some answers that were provided and to confirm accuracy of findings. Thematic analysis using van Manen’s method was utilized to uncover themes and experiential structures that embodied evolving meanings of the work. Data collected were organized, read and reread, coded, and entered into NVivo12 to identify themes and patterns after each interview. The PI continued to return to the field in an iterative process of coding and collecting data until there were recurrences of a theme identified, and no new themes emerging, thus the interview process was completed after 12 interviews. All interviews were audio recorded and took place from April 2021-November 2021. All interviews were transcribed by NVivo transcription services and uploaded into to NVivo 12 for the PI to code and analyze data. Codes were created inductively after listening and reading transcriptions. Results: Eight themes emerged through the exploration of the lived experiences of Muslim women with infertility: 1) discovering difficulties of conceiving, 2) seeking reproductive care, 3) fertility expectations, 4) rationalizing fertility status, 5) emotional toll, 6) dynamic relationships, 7) pursuing support, and 8) identity. Implications: This study was unique in that it was one of the first studies that explored the lived experience of second-generation Muslim women as well as decision making factors in acceptance of infertility treatment. The findings of this study provide a glimpse in understanding the lived experiences of Muslim American women with infertility. In this study religion, community, and need for support were discussed often. The lived worlds of Muslim American women provided evidence of the importance of following Islamic ethico-legal traditions in decision making. Educational programs or training should be developed for healthcare providers to better understand the role of religion in a specific religious group as well as best ways to communicate recommendations that may be sensitive. Similarly, discussing their experiences, asking about their mental health, and providing counseling may reduce the emotional burden women experience. Educational training should be provided to Muslim therapist on infertility and religious style coping methods; which may improve the utilization of counseling and reduce the psychological toll of their experiences.

Included in

Nursing Commons