The experiences of infertile African women in Durban.
The experiences of African women with primary infertility were explored. These women were from Durban and surrounding rural areas, in KwaZulu / Natal. The aims of the study were to describe their perception of infertility using King's (1981) Interacting Systems Model and to describe the actions they undertook in response to their problem of primary infertility. A purposive sample of the first ten consenting women with primary infertility, five from the academic hospital and five from a private gynaecological practice were selected on the day when they attended either health centre. Case studies were conducted using in-depth interviews. Women's personal, interpersonal and social systems were adversely affected by their problem of being unable to conceive. For example in the taped discussions, all ten participants had a low self-image in regard to their personal system which was reflected in all but four, when measured with Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1979). All women were found to be at various stages in the grief process, only one having attained acceptance (Kubler-Ross, 1969). Eight women were married and the remaining two were single. Four of the married participants had experienced problems with "in-laws", which has led to poor interpersonal relationships, unlike the other four married participants. Despite not being major decision-makers in the household, all the participants were allowed to make their own decisions about whom they saw in regard to infertility. All the women concerned made use of formal medical facilities but four participants made use of traditional and/or faith healers as well. Some of the problems identified were the lack of emotional support from nursing personnel as well as their own lack of understanding of causes, investigations and treatment of female infertility. Recommendations regarding effective nursing care of women with infertility and the possible formation of support groups, were made. As all the participants were literate, informative pamphlets could be developed. Areas of further research were identified.