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Infertility and Involuntary Childlessness

Helping Couples Cope

December 1998


Infertility, which affects one in six couples--over ten million people, is at once a medical, psychological, and social problem. Infertility and Involuntary Childlessness shows therapists how to help individuals and couples cope with this crisis.

Infertility is a growing problem in today's world, despite the advanced reproductive technologies, which have far-reaching implications for the family and culture. The book opens with a physician's comprehensive overview of the medical treatments available to infertile couples and then moves on to explore the emotional impact of the infertility crisis.

Couples who are infertile ride a monthly roller coaster while they are in treatment; the stresses reverberate throughout the family system and affect every aspect of the couple's life. Gender differences are accentuated; differences in cultural or religious beliefs are magnified; extended families are torn apart; and the couple experiences poor communication, sexual difficulties, or a lack of meaning or fulfillment in life. Infertility also affects the couple's families and work and friendship systems. Cooper-Hilbert provides a map through the emotional stages of the infertility crisis, highlighting themes of disappointment, anger, disillusionment, and grief. She presents case examples to give the reader insight into the wide-ranging effects of infertility and discusses specific therapeutic interventions.

The consequences of infertility can be longlasting, affecting the couple system long after resolution was believed to have occurred. Cooper-Hilbert discusses methods that help the therapist recognize an infertility problem when it is not the presenting complaint. She also describes interventions for individuals and couples who are involuntarily childless, but not necessarily infertile, such as singles, gay and lesbian couples, spouses in blended family configurations, and out-of-phase couples. The author closes the book with a thought-provoking discussion of biotechnology, emphasizing the need for social awareness, medical ethics, and legal action to keep pace with this complex science. Infertility and Involuntary Childlessness gives therapists all of the information they need to successfully help couples and families resolve their infertility crisis.



163 x 244 mm • 192 pages


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