Men and infertility in The Gambia: Limited biomedical knowledge and awareness discourage male involvement and exacerbate gender-based impacts of infertility

Susan Dierickx, Kelvin Onyango Oruko, Ed Clarke, Sainey Ceesay, Allan Pacey, Julie Balen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Infertility in Sub-Saharan Africa constitutes an important social and public health problem. Yet, there is a paucity of research on the experiences of men living with infertility, especially in West Africa. This study explored men's aetiological knowledge, views and experiences of infertility in the West Coast region of The Gambia, West Africa.

METHODOLOGY: An explorative qualitative study was conducted among men living in the rural and urban communities of the West Coast region of The Gambia using in-depth interviews. Data collection and analysis were performed concurrently, and thematic data analysis was an iterative process carried out using NVivo 11 Analysis Software.

RESULTS: Gambian men had generally poor knowledge of infertility, allocating it to God, spiritual powers and bodily (biomedical) factors. While societal norms meant that infertility was generally attributed to women, some men allocated male-factor infertility to poor sperm quality and impotence. Infertility threatened participants' sense of masculinity and resulted in psychosocial distress, including stigma, feelings of isolation, and low self-esteem.

CONCLUSION: Normative gendered frameworks of infertility result in high levels of female responsibilisation in the Gambian context. Yet men diagnosed with infertility experience significant, often unrecognized, psychological and social distress. We therefore call for increased attention to male-factor infertility, and the promotion of male engagement with infertility-care and services, both of which are essential for successfully addressing infertility and it's psychosocial consequences in The Gambia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0260084
Number of pages12
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume16
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

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