ABSTRACT

Studies conducted in Western and non-Western societies1 indicate that in many contexts, involuntary childlessness is a sensitive topic and a source of personal concern and social stress (Inhorn and van Balen, 2002). However, people (particularly women) living in non-Western societies appear to experience more severe social consequences of involuntary childlessness, such as social stigmatization and exclusion, marital or social violence and more emotional distress, than people in Western societies (Daar and Merali, 2001; van Balen and Inhorn, 2002).These observed differences in social consequences and emotional distress are frequently related to a stronger pronatalist culture (i.e. having children is the undisputed social norm) in non-Western than in Western societies (van Balen and Inhorn, 2002; Dyer, 2007) and to differences in cultural beliefs about procreation and the causes of infertility (see also van Balen, Chapter 2). Such cultural differences might also influence the help-seeking behaviour of infertile couples (Gerrits, 1997; Guntupalli, 2004; Nahar, 2007; van Rooij, 2008).