Author: Anna Foaese, 2018 MPH Dissertation
Infertility is referred to as being a life crisis for many individuals and couples, who desire parenthood, as it is associated with significant emotional and psychological distress (Allot et al, 2013). The overall impact of infertility is significant, likely underestimated and can have considerable emotional and financial costs to both individuals and health systems.
Approximately one in six women in New Zealand experience infertility during their life (Righarts et al, 2015). Globally, the prevalence of infertility in developed countries is estimated as one in every four couples (Mascarenhas et al, 2012). The overall burden of infertility for Pacific peoples is unknown given the paucity of prevalence rates and underreporting of infertility in New Zealand (van Roode et al, 2015). There is a paucity of research exploring Pasifika reproductive health outcomes and no research has explored Pasifika women’s experiences of infertility.
This research sought to explore Pasifika women’s experiences of infertility. In particular, the socio-cultural construction of infertility, access and uptake of fertility treatment services and subsequent fertility outcomes. This research used qualitative methodology to explore the experiences of Pasifika women living in Canterbury and Wellington, New Zealand. Information was collected using in-depth interviews with six participants. The interviews were audio taped, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Themes were analysed in the context of existing literature, as well as social theory and psychological concepts to provide more in-depth analysis.
Two themes emerged from the research. Firstly, the notion that Pasifika women are ‘hyper-fertile’. This perception reinforces the stereotypical ideology of marginalised population groups as over productive, resulting in the invisibility of infertility. The second theme outlined the intersectional tensions the participants experienced as women experiencing infertility. The intersection of gender, culture and religion compounds the stigma and silence attached to infertility and reinforces the centrality of biological reproduction for Pasifika women.
This dissertation aimed to provide an understanding of the experiences of this minority population group in New Zealand. It is envisaged that this dissertation will provide valuable insight into access and engagement issues with reproductive health care and fertility treatment services for Pasifika families. It also aimed to identify areas for improvements to enable equitable reproductive health outcomes.