Sisson, Gretchen. “Conceiving Infertility”. MA, Boston College, 2009. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/1103.
Assisted reproductive technologies have transformed the way medicine responds to infertility, as well as the ways those who go through difficulty conceiving understand their bodies and their experiences. In many capacities, however, the biomedical model is insufficient: recognition is contingent upon attempts to conceive, diagnosis is often imprecise or unexplained, and treatments strive for solutions without cures - and are frequently incapable of providing even the former. Interviews with 26 participants with current or recent histories of infertility revealed the ways they negotiate the biomedical model: 1) going beyond medical treatment in making lifestyle changes; 2) pursuing alternative treatments; 3) questioning doctors and playing active roles in determining courses of treatment; 4) using religion, spirituality, or magical thinking to develop other, non-bodily ways of controlling infertility; 5) extracting meaning from the experiences, infusing the objective idea of "disease" with subjective purpose; 6) building personal, alternate models that encompass a wide range of ways of thinking about infertility; and 7) directly challenging the scientific authority of the biomedical model, resisting the terms of treatment, or questioning the ability of medicine to offer them solutions. No participants showed pure compliance - as all included at least one of the negotiations - and none showed full resistance - as all had sought at least some medical treatments. Understanding these negotiations leads to a better concept of patient identity and the "illness" experience; it can inform policy in regards to prevention, education, and insurance mandates; and it better reveals who society permits to pursue parenthood in what ways.