Women’s experiences of living with involuntary childlessness at Kawempe National Referral Hospital, Kampala Uganda
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Involuntary childlessness is a global phenomenon that has a negative impact on the couple or the family involved. The experiences of women living with involuntary childlessness have not been well documented in the literature, specifically in the Ugandan context. The purpose of the study was to explore the experiences and coping strategies of women living with involuntary childlessness seeking fertility treatment at Kawempe National Referral Hospital, Kampala Uganda. Methods: A qualitative phenomenological approach was used. Fifteen in-depth interviews were conducted among women experiencing involuntary childlessness at Kawempe National Referral Hospital. Purposive sampling was used in selecting participants for the study and the actual sample size was determined by the principle of saturation. The interviews were transcribed and later coded manually, then collated into categories, subthemes, and themes. The results are presented in form of text and narrative quotes from participants. Results: Six themes emerged from the women’s experiences of living with involuntary childlessness, namely: Inadequate social support, Psychological torture, continued grief, marital instability, Failure attributed to childlessness, and financial constraints. Some women coped positively while others employed negative coping strategies such as social withdrawal and isolation, distracting their minds to forget, and negative self-concept. Women who were well supported by their partners and families coped positively, while those who did not receive as much support were stressed, sad, angered, and they lost hope in achieving their wish. Conclusion: The findings from this study recommend that health workers empower involuntary childless women with positive coping skills and provide psychological and emotional support to these women. It also recommends that the community leaders should be empowered to sensitize the community about involuntary childlessness and help those going through this challenge to seek help early enough more so, organize support groups from which involuntary childless women can obtain support each other and help them to cope positively. These women need a holistic approach to embracing their psychological, social, physical, and financial needs to overcome involuntary childlessness and its consequences.