Passion or Data Points? Studying African American Women’s Experiences With Infertility

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Although social portrayals of infertility often draw images of high-income, White couples seeking medical interventions, African American women with infertility typically remain invisible. Relying on a theoretical framework of intersectionality, I conducted a qualitative study to examine how African American women, from different socioeconomic classes, cope with infertility. In this article, I examine the emotional aspects of conducting this research and the process of interviewing 50 African American women about their experiences with highly personal, emotionally charged reproductive difficulties. Here, I specifically review the emotional journey that accompanied this research at different stages of the project, from its very beginning, including the decision to conduct a study, through the method and analyses (sample recruitment, data collection, and interpreting results) to writing and publishing the findings. Themes of silence and breaking silence are explored as a framework for understanding the process of bringing emotionally difficult material to light—for both participants and researchers.

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