The Role Of Infertility In Marital Dissolution

Project and Seminar Material for Sociology

The Role Of Infertility In Marital Dissolution


This study attempts to find out the association between the experience of infertility and marital dissolution the theories used in this study are phenomenology, social learning theory and symbolic internationalism. The method employed in the study is qualitative research methods which is the survey method. By this method quantitative data was generated through the use of a structured questionnaire distributed among the respondents. Findings from this study based on infertility and stigmatization corroborates the work of Ali and Sami (2006) were about 65% had reported being isolated because of no children, 25.8% had been abused verbally for the same reason and 9.3% had been abused physically because of the same reason. Findings based on infertility and frequency of quarrels among couples were consistent with the work of Idowu, (2003) were about 23% of spouses reported having fought physically with their spouses.

Furthermore, findings also reveal the fact that infertility in relation to willingness to quit marriage were consistent with the work of Vanbalen, F. and Bos, H. M. W et al (2009) were about 38.8% do not have children and have not thought of leaving their marriage while 14.8% had children and still thought of leaving their marriage. Findings further revealed that infertility in relation to quality of relationship with spousal family was in agreement with the worked of Pedro A. (2015) and Bliss, C. (1999).

This study therefore concludes that there is an association between the independent and all the dependent variables. This study therefore recommends that the mass media should sensitize the public on the unbecoming relationship being given to the infertile woman so that there can be a correction. Also, the religious institutions should be the harbinger or at the forefront of correcting ill treatment to the infertile woman whom study has shown is being abused physically, verbally and also isolated.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

In this piece, the consequences of childlessness in relation to divorce and separation would be highlighted which cuts across racial and geographical boundaries. Some of these consequences include but not limited to frequencies of quarrels with member of spousal family, stigmatization and possible conflict between couples.

Stigmatization is a product of the circumstances and experiences that in most part of the world children were perceived as sustenance of the family lineage and inheritances especially in societies that are patrilineal in nature. Life associated with absence of children was perceived not worth living as there would be nobody to acquire the properties of the deceased Tabong and Adongo, (2013); Mulder, M.B., (1999); Hollos, M., et al (2007). Marital discord is synonymous with couples with infertility issues. This is profound especially with the couples where the infertility problems are more in women than we have in men. Sultan, (2010) Sexual intercourse often becomes a level playing field where this is played out. According to Richard, S.E., (2010) “Forty percent of infertile women suffer from sexual problem that cause them distress compared with 25% of the control group of healthy women”. Couples with fertility issues are subject to scrutiny, pressure from friends, families and other social group. Sultan, (2010 ); James, S.D., (2011 ); W.H.O., (2010).

Effect of conflict among couples often leads to instability and reproduction problems. Often times revelation of concealed pre-marital history is an issue that also lead to conflict. Omoregbe, S.K., (2010); Chikwuka, C.O., (2013); Wani, (2011).

1.2 Statement of Problem

Available statistics show that divorce is more likely by three times for couples who experience infertility issues Kjaer, (2011). Ending a relationship that is childless could be beneficial rather than be in one that reminds you of childlessness (Day , J., 2016 ).This is an aberration that western societies have evolved ways of dealing with although the problem cannot be eroded entirely. Infertility comes from social factors such as loose sexual habits ; contact with STDs CDC, (2016 ) genetic ; people with dysfunctional system that inhibits reproduction Shulman, L., (2016 ).

From contemporary times the practice of safe sex and birth control have affected fertility Harting et al., (1969); Morrison, (1965); Shepherd, (1964). There are also environmental factors that have affected reproduction. Exposure to certain chemicals, reactions to particular drugs, performance enhancing drugs, anabolic steroids Firth, S., (2014). Of profound dimension are the emotional values which are eroded due to infertility leading to isolation and self worthlessness Wirthberg et al, (2007). Among the aims of this study was to obtain a deeper knowledge and broader insight into the causes and long term effects of infertility.

Stigmatization faced by woman in African countries is embedded with gory details of inhuman treatment meted out to these women. They are deprived, looked down upon , they become objects of pity and ridicule . These are some of the reasons why researchers are prying into the plight of the infertile woman.

Some of the reasons outlined above often times lead to withdrawal by the woman and most times lead to marital discord Hendrick and Hendrick, (1992).

Of profound magnitude is the issue of emotional distress suffered by couples from infertility which results in admitting past mistakes as possible cause of the problem. They become despondent, feelings of loss set in, reminiscent of constant grief. They are desperate in their anticipation for a child and their sense of personal worth is affected. They are not accorded rights to express themselves freely and they are treated as outcasts and unfit people Diamond et al., (1999),

Daniluk, (2001); Gibson & Myers, (2002); Peterson, Newton, & Rosen, (2003), Infertility also has political consequences especially as most Governments has shown preference in reduction of population growth .This has the effect of inhibiting policies that indirectly favours large number of families. The issue of birth control has made large number of families unpopular in modern times which has affected family fertility Balen, (2000).

Another fertility problem is the reluctance of the men to take to fertility treatment as the problem is viewed majorly as a woman’s issue in Africa. This has the consequences of prolonging the treatment and wasting the fertile years of the woman.

There is a yawning gap in the existing literature about the full impact of infertility on individuals and couples. Apart from the social and cultural consequences, the ethical and moral perspectives would be examined in this expose’

1.3 Primary Research Questions

  1. Is there a relationship between the experience of infertility and stigmatization?
  2. Is there a relationship between the experience of infertility and frequency of quarrels among couples?
  3. Is there a relationship between the experience of infertility and quality of relationship with members of spousal family?
  4. Is there a relationship between the role of infertility and willingness to quit marriage?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

  1. To find out the association between the experience of infertility and stigmatization.
  2. To find out the association between the experience of infertility and frequency of quarrels.
  3. To find out the association between the experience of infertility and quality of relationship with spousal family.
  4. To find out the association between the experience of infertility and willingness to quit marriage.

1.5 Significance of Study

The purpose of the study is to examine closely the experience of infertility among couples. This would be done by creating an awareness of their documented experiences and how modern methods in medicine can impinge on couples with infertility issues and help in reviving ailing marriages. Also relationships or predictors of infertility such as Education, Occupation and Sexual dysfunction among other variables would be examined.

Also , the relationships of infertility with variables like Stigmatization , frequency of quarrels among couples , quality of relationship with spousal family and willingness to divorce would be examined .The consequences of infertility would be explored from the theoretical standpoint. It is anticipated that the findings of this work could be used in guiding future legislations especially on the role of ARTs and the alternatives available to couples with these problems.

Furthermore, government should be aware of these new trends and help in subsidizing cost of treatment and also help in creating enabling environment that is related to policy issues in this area.

The rationale for the study bothers on the importance of the stability of the family and couples as these affect the immediate networks of the family such as the extended family, friends, work ties indirectly. It also impacts socially and economically psychologically, emotionally and even spiritually.

The various alterations in the family is significant for social change since indissolubility of marriage was abolished and also unilateral disagreement later replaced mutual consent to divorce.

This would help inform policy makers on the depth of the problem and how it could provide succour for ailing marriages and possibly provide those legal basis for artificial reproductive technology.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study would cover the experiences of infertility as it affects marital dissolution. The study would encompass the married and the divorced in Yaba Local Council development area in Lagos – State.

Within the time framework of this research, this study would investigate the experience of infertility as it relates to variables like Stigmatization, frequency of quarrels among couples, quality of relationship with spousal family and willingness to quit marriage among couples and the divorced in the stated study area.

1.7 Conceptual Clarification


A basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family. A social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for: a single-parent family.

Married Couples Family

The legal status, condition, or relationship that results from a contract by which one man and one woman, who have the capacity to enter into such an agreement, mutually promise to live together in the relationship of Husband and Wife in law for life, or until the legal termination of the relationship.

Cohabiting Couples Family

Cohabitation refers to situations in which two people live together, and are involved in an emotional and/or sexually intimate relationship. The term is commonly used regarding unmarried couples who choose to live together without officially getting married.


Diminished or absent ability to conceive and bear offspring. A couple is considered to be experiencing infertility if conception has not occurred after 12 months of sexual activity without the use of contraception.


An angry dispute or altercation; a disagreement marked by a temporary or permanent break in friendly relations. 2. a cause of dispute, complaint, or hostile feeling.


Conflict refers to some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group


To mark out or describe (as something bad).To set some mark of disgrace or infamy upon.

Child Free Couples

Used to refer to people who choose not to have children, or a place or situation without children

Child Anticipated Couples

This refers to people who expect to raise children from their from their families as opposed to the ideology of child free couple


Adoption is the act of taking something on as your own. Adoption usually refers to the legal process of becoming a non-biological parent, but it also refers to the act of embracing ideas, habits, or free kittens. Adoption comes from the Old French word adopt are, meaning “to choose for oneself.

Assisted Reproductive Technology

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the technology used to achieve pregnancy in procedures such as fertility medication, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy. It is reproductive technology used primarily for infertility treatments, and is also known as fertility treatment.

Fertility Medication

Fertility medication, better known as fertility drugs, are drugs which enhance reproductive fertility. For women, fertility medication is used to stimulate follicle development of the ovary.

Artificial Insemination

A medical process in which semen is used to make a woman or female animal pregnant without sexual intercourse.

In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab.


The practice by which a woman (called a surrogate mother) becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby in order to give it to someone who cannot have children.

A surrogate is implanted with an embryo created by IVF, using intended mother’s egg and donor sperm. The resulting child is genetically related to intended mother and genetically unrelated to the surrogate.


Is the use of biological processes, organisms, or systems to manufacture products intended to improve the quality of human life. The earliest biotechnologists were farmers who developed improved species of plants and animals by cross pollenization or cross breeding.

Singleton live birth:

Percent of low birth-weight singleton live births, by parity. Definition: … “Live birth” is the the birth of a newborn, irrespective of the duration of gestation, that exhibits any sign of life, such as respiration, heartbeat, umbilical pulsation, or movement of voluntary muscles.


Ovarian Stimulation & Egg Retrieval. Office visit is scheduled day 2 or day 3following onset of menses for the purpose of a baseline ultrasound examination and a blood test (usually for follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol.) Oral contraceptives are begun to help begin the ovarian suppression process.

Legitimate Children:

Legitimacy, in traditional Western common law, is the status of a child born to parents who are legally married to each other, and of a child conceived before the parents obtain a legal divorce. Conversely, illegitimacy (or bastardy) has been the status of a child born outside marriage.

Illegitimate Children

Normal Weight: The normal weight of a baby who reaches full term between 37 and 40 weeks is 2.7–4.1kg (6 – 9 lbs), with an average weight of 3.5kg (7.7 lbs). A baby who weighs less than 2.5kg (5.5 lbs) is considered to have a low birth weight.Feb 10, 2016


Divorce (or dissolution of marriage) is the termination of a marriage or marital union, the canceling and/or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

Results of the analyses completed on the study participants (N = 129 infertile male and female) yielded the following results: there is a significant increase in the level of infertility-related stress and most of the sample 93.0 % experience very high stress, furthermore, all male participants suffer from very high stress, while, 91.3% of female participants suffers from very high. There is a positive, and significant relationship between the mean of duration of infertility and relationship concerns, the Couples with University level of education have significantly less sexual concerns than did the couples with Secondary level of education, the Couples with Secondary level of education has significantly more sexual concerns than did the couples with High level of education, high level of education has the highest usage of problem solving styles, high level of education can use Reinterpretation or Positive reappraisal (reframing a situation to see it in a positive light); more than other levels, Higher level of education use Accountability more than other which is due to their full understanding of the current situation.

The secondary type of infertility has accountability more than primary infertility, the nuclear family use problem solving, and reinterpretation, more than extended family, the greater the fertility related stress, the less infertile couples using self control, the greater the need for parenting, more infertile couples using wish and avoidance, the greater the need for parenting, more infertile couples using problem solving; the greater the need for parenting, more infertile couples using reinterpritation, the greater the need for parenting, more infertile couples using affiliation, the greater the need for parenting, more infertile couples using accountability, the greater the rejection of lifestyle, the less infertile couples using self control, the greater the sexual concern, the less infertile couples using self control, the greater the sexual concern, more infertile couples using escape and truble, the greater the fertility related stress, more infertile couples using escape and truble, and finally, the greater the number of treating doctors, more couples fertility related stress

The current study found no significant differences in sex, work, type of infertility related to fertility related stress, and psychological counseling.

5.2 Recommendation

This studies that examine the infertile stress and coping processes of men and women would be of great value. These studies could help reveal the complex processes of coping with infertility and could shed additional light on the couple groupings that reported positive outcomes

The researcher recommends the following to alleviate their suffer and improve their well-being:

  1. Awareness programs could be developed to educate medical professionals about the importance of their role in the experience of infertility for the couple.
  2. Physicians who are able to identify couples who may be at risk for problems with their marital adjustment could then make appropriate referrals to mental or social workers.
  3. Inclusion of the mental health in the reproductive Clinics and concurrent therapy may increase the chance of getting pregnant.
  4. Developing a health insurance that imply the treatment of clients suffer from such issue.
  5. Increase the awareness of the general population about the benefits of the social support and how to deal with such people to prevent further complication for their situation.
  6. Develop a support groups for the infertile couples and group therapy to minimize their suffer and promote their health condition.

5.3 Future Research Could Include:

  1. Longitudinal studies that track changes in infertile couples‟ coping strategies over time. Longitudinal studies could more fully explore Lazarus and Folkman‟s hypothesis that stress and coping are situation specific. Coping strategies that appear ineffective at the early stages of treatment may prove to be effective given a new set of circumstances.
  2. Cross-sectional designs that replicate this study using infertile populations not pursuing treatment or who recently completed treatments would be valuable. This would allow researchers to more fully understand the relationship between coping and infertility stress, marital adjustment and depression across the various phases of the infertility experience.
  3. Studying the effects of larger systems on the couple experiencing infertility may be another beneficial area for future research.
  4. Looking at the impact of extended family and other larger social support networks, organizational influences such as Masged, religion, and school, and the larger communities attitudes towards infertility may lead to important knowledge about how these larger systems, and the couple’s relationship to these larger systems, effect marital adjustment for couples.
  5. Other studies looking at the effect of therapeutic interventions on couples who exhibited the risk factors identified in this study and received treatment would provide a wealth of information about the most beneficial interventions for these couples.
  6. Another interesting avenue for future research might be to examine physicians, nurses and other medical personnel who have contact with couples presenting for infertility treatment in regard to their attitudes and behaviors toward these couples.
  7. Studying the impact and influence of medical professionals on the couple experiencing infertility could be very informative. Physicians specializing in infertility treatment are especially important individuals in the couples lives as they face infertility. These physicians may often be the primary confidants of the couples with regard to their physical and emotional state
  8. A study examining the awareness level and attributions of infertility specialists regarding the emotional factors and risks to marital adjustment for these couples may lead to important new information about ways that these medical professionals can better interact with couples seeking infertility treatment.

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