Reproductive disruptions and the making of subjectivity: The meaning of infertility in South Texas

Date

2013

Authors

Collins, Amber L.

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Abstract

The goal of this research was to examine how women who have undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF) negotiate their identities as women and potential mothers and exercise agency in (re)defining these social roles. The data set for this research included twenty interviews with eight women who had undergone in vitro fertilization as a treatment for female factor infertility, additional written responses from two of these women, a focus group with two of the women, and transcripts from two weblogs and two online message boards focusing on the subject of infertility. Disruption, continuity, control, embodiment and value were found to be the most significant themes in women's stories. These concepts were found to affect how women negotiated their identities throughout treatment and, most significantly, once treatment was completed with a live birth. Women felt that their identity was disrupted due to a loss of similarity to the life they led before infertility, and they worked to counteract this feeling. Study findings also suggested that women's feelings of disconnection from identity and pre-treatment subjectivity were exacerbated by embodying infertility in ways that left them unable to trust their own bodies and in ways that made it necessary to put power over their bodies and the products of their body into the hands of others. Finally, the findings demonstrate that during and after treatment, women made a concentrated effort to counteract the negative effects that infertility and infertility treatment had on their identity and subjectivity by finding ways that they could value their experience.

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Keywords

Identity, In Vitro Fertilization, Infertility, Reproduction, Reproductive Disruptions, Subjectivity

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Department

Anthropology