Fertile Minds in Infertile Bodies


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Presentation at the 9th European Sociological Association in Lisbon, September 2009

Research program in cooperation with ISS - Istituto Superiore della Sanità


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Fertile Minds in Infertile Bodies

  1. 1. Roberta Bartoletti, Lella Mazzoli, Giovanni Boccia Artieri, Laura Gemini LaRiCA | Advanced Communication Research Lab University of Urbino “Carlo Bo” - Italy EUROPEAN SOCIETY OR EUROPEAN SOCIETIES ? Lisboa, 2-5 Sept 2009 RN13 Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives SESSION CODE: 8B The Transition to Parenthood: Consequences and Adaptation Chair Jean-Luc Gauthier (CH) 05 Set 2009 - 13:30 Building II Auditório B1.03 Fertile minds in infertile bodies. Social constraints, procreative wishes and life choices of infertile couples in Italy
  2. 2. The study Several studies conducted from 2004 to now by the LaRiCA in the framework of an Observatory on Infertility as a Social Problem in cooperation with the Istituto Superiore della Sanità , the main national institute for research on public health issues in Italy (2008-2009).
  3. 3. The focus of the study The social characteristics, wishes, life experiences and choices of infertile couples and infertile individuals who decided to undergo a medical treatment for infertility in a private or public health facility in Italy (Bologna, Abano Terme, Udine, Milan or Naples ).
  4. 4. The methodology Interviews with informants ( gynaecologists, psychologists, patients associations, …) . 28 individual interviews (Abano Terme) and 2 focus groups (Naples and Milan) with men and women with a personal history of infertility. December 2008 - April 2009. The aim: to construct a narrative of living with infertility. The final goal: to design an effective strategy for the prevention of infertility amongst younger Italian generations (18-25 years old).
  5. 5. Infertility: a definition The World Health Organisation has defined infertility as “the diminished or absent ability to conceive or produce an offspring, while sterility is the complete inability to conceive or produce an offspring”. Primary Infertility is defined as neither partner having achieved a pregnancy. Secondary Infertility is defined as when a pregnancy has previously been achieved by the couple but regular, unprotected intercourse has not resulted in a second pregnancy.
  6. 6. A national framework: infertility as a growing problem? In developed countries, between 8% and 12% of all couples will experience some form of infertility during their reproductive lives. In Italy, the National Statistics Bureau, Censis, estimates that about a million Italian couples cope with infertility. In 2006, 52,206 couples undergoing treatment for infertility in 342 centers nationwide (Public Medically Assisted Procreation Inventory census).
  7. 7. Findings: the contradictory process of identity construction of infertile couples in the current Italian society 1 Greater awareness of parenthood (perceived) Infertility as an element in the construction of a strong identity Children as a fundamental point of reference in the construction of the idea of ‘family’
  8. 8. Findings: the percieved paradox in Italian culture 1 Italian society affirms the importance of the family and of children, but it does not bring together conditions contributing to make this ‘value’ possible. A lack of public policies. Infertility as a private problem?
  9. 9. Findings: the contradictory process of identity construction of infertile couples in the current Italian society 2 Cultural integration and social marginalization of infertile couples Desire to be visible and understood, silence and isolation (and auto-segregation).
  10. 10. Findings: contradiction in Italian culture A hypothesis: Infertility reveals a structural contradiction in Italian society that the society tries to remove, a contradiction that regards its founding values and the resulting patterns of social behaviour and choices that are socially approved or disapproved. This contradiction is embodied in the bodies and minds of infertile couples, and could be considered a further cause of the significant suffering that characterizes their lives.
  11. 11. Proposals: education, information and communication to improve the communication about the problem of infertility in Italian society to improve the information targeted at young generations, in order to prevent a growing problem of physical and psychological health in our modern society
  12. 12. THANK YOU FOR THE ATTENTION! The Research Team Lella Mazzoli, LaRiCA Director Roberta Bartoletti, LaRiCA senior researcher Giovanni Boccia Artieri, LaRiCA senior researcher Laura Gemini, LaRiCA senior researcher Luca Rossi , LaRiCA junior researcher Lorenzo Giannini , LaRiCA junior researcher Monica Baroni, LaRiCA junior researcher Marina Mengarelli , Osservatorio Sociale Infertilità Giulia Scaravelli , Istituto Superiore Sanità, Director RPMA Paola D’Aloja , Istituto Superiore Sanità Roberta Spoletini, Istituto Superiore Sanità
  13. 13. The Research Site and Weblog