Journal article

Maria Reimann (2017)

‘I was with my wife the entire time.’ Polish men’s narratives of IVF treatment

Journal Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online
Short title of the journal RBMS
Number/Volume 3 (2016, special issue)
Page references 120-125

ISSN: 2405-6618

This paper is an ethnography of Polish fathers whose children were conceived with the use of IVF. Due to the strong position of the Catholic Church in Poland, much hostility is voiced in public debate towards women undergoing this treatment and also towards the children born following treatment. The Church condemns the practice as sinful and suggests that these children might suffer from psychological and genetic diseases, thus that they pose a threat to social and moral order. Nevertheless, 76% of people in Poland agree with the statement that infertile married couples should be allowed access to IVF. This paper examines the male perspective on infertility and its treatment. Men are neglected in the debate on IVF, which focuses on the embryo and the female body. By their own account, men also consider their role to be a supporting one and admit that it is the woman who takes upon herself most of the responsibility for the treatment. Men, like their partners, go through difficult emotions, but unlike their partners, often do not find anybody outside the relationship to share them with. While feeling helpless during the treatment process, they expressed strong emotions when discussing the public debate during the interviews. Many of them used strong, sometimes vulgar language when talking about the public debate, as if they were regaining their agency, by symbolically protecting their families. Finally, my research points to the importance of 'togetherness' for my interlocutors.

Keywords: Infertility, IVF, men's experience, Poland

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