The Experiences of Infertility among Married Kenyan Women

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne M. Hedstrom


Research has shown that infertility affects millions of people worldwide although no reliable information is available about the prevalence of infertility in Kenya. The anecdotal reports and scant research regarding infertility in Kenya focus on the traditional understanding of infertility as a curse, the causes and social consequences of infertility, and society’s negative attitude towards women with infertility. There is no literature about the experiences of infertility among married Kenyan women. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of infertility among married Kenyan women in respect to (1) how they describe, react, and make meaning and/or understand their infertility experience, and (2) what resources, services, and source of support they find helpful in dealing with infertility.

This study utilized a qualitative inquiry using the phenomenological tradition to gain an understanding of the experiences of infertility among married Kenyan women in Nairobi. The Presbyterian Church of East Africa was used as an entry point to the larger community. Pastors were asked to distribute invitation letters to potential participants; from this point the snowball method was used. Ten participants were engaged in face-to-face in-depth, semi-structured interviews to elicit their experiences with infertility. These interviews were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. Inductive data analysis was used to identify the emergent themes.

The results of this study revealed that infertility has a negative social, emotional, psychological, financial, and political impact on the lives of married Kenyan women dealing with infertility. Six themes that emerged from participants’ interviews were: (1) The challenges of infertility, (2) Impact of infertility on relationships, (3) Environmental influences of infertility, (4) Coping with infertility, (5) Infertility treatments, and (6) Suggestions for addressing infertility. Implications for the Kenyan government, religious leaders, medical and mental health professionals, Kenya Institute for Professional Counseling, and counselor education programs in the U.S. are discussed. Limitations of the study and the recommendations for future research are offered.


Author has asked that access to his dissertation be restricted to abstract only.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Abstract Only

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