Objectives: This paper reports on a study of involuntarily childless Indian women/couples seeking in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The focus is on the social context of infertility and on women's perceptions of and experiences with IVF. Methods: Twenty-two childless women/couples who sought IVF. The sample was drawn from consenting clients of clinics in two major Indian cities, viz. New Delhi and Mumbai. Result: In-depth interviews revealed that infertility is deeply feared, women's status and security are affected, and they experience stigmatisation and isolation. IVF was pursued after less intrusive avenues had been exhausted. Inadequate information/counselling is provided, success rates are low, IVF is commercialised and the process is physiologically, emotionally and financially stressful. Conclusion: In Indian society fertility defines womanhood and motherhood, and infertility is stigmatised. Women faced a lot of pressures to produce a biological child, and go through all kinds of treatments, including the expensive ARTs, to have a child. Practice implications: Integration of infertility services into the state's reproductive health programme and disseminate information on infertility and to offer other appropriate choices, such as adoption. Effective counselling on coping with psychosocial/sexual problems. Monitoring of the prevalence of sex preselection. © 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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