Document Type : Original Article
Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman
Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
Background: To understand the psychosocial experience of infertility among women with polycystic ovarian
syndrome in Oman.
Materials and Methods: In this qualitative study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 Omani women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and infertility across two fertility clinics, in Muscat-Oman. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed analysed verbatim and qualitatively using the framework approach.
Results: Four main themes emerged from participants’ interviews related to the cultural aspects around infertility, the impact of infertility on participants’ emotions, the effects of infertility on couples’ relationship and self-management strategies for dealing with infertility. Culturally, women are expected to conceive soon after marriage, and most participants were blamed for the delay rather than their husbands. Participants experienced psychosocial pressure to bear children, mainly from in laws, where some admitted that their husbands’ family suggested they remarried for having children. The majority of women mentioned being emotionally supported by their partners; however marital tensions in the form of negative emotions and threats of divorce were apparent in couples that had been experiencing infertility for longer time. Women were emotionally feeling lonely, jealous and inferior to other women with children and concerned that they would not have children to look after them in older age. Although women who had experienced infertility for a greater duration seemed to become more resilient and cope better, other participants described how they were using different strategies to cope with infertility including taking up new activities; whereas others admitted moving out from their in laws’ house or avoiding social gatherings where the topic of children was likely to come up.
Conclusion: Omani women with PCOS and infertility experience significant psychosocial challenges given the high value placed on fertility within the culture as a result they seem to adapt a variety of coping strategies. Health care providers may consider offering emotional support during consultations.