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The Work of a Woman is to give Birth to Children: Cultural Constructions of Infertility in Nigeria

RA Dimka
SL Dein


Infertility is a condition loaded with meaning spanning across biomedical, psychological, social, economic, cultural and religious spheres. Given its disruptive power over women’s lives, it provides a unique lens through which issues of kinship, gender, sexuality, cosmology and religion can be examined. The paper presents the results of an ethnographic study of infertility in Central Nigeria. Explanatory models of infertility were variegated, encompassing biomedical, folk and religious elements. Like other ethnographic studies of help seeking for infertility in Nigeria, among this group resort was made to biomedical treatments, traditional healers and religious healing with no one system being hegemonic. The findings of this study accord with studies of infertility in other cultural groups indicating the disruptive influence of missing motherhood (Afr J Reprod Health 2013; 17[2]: 102-117).

Keywords: Infertility, Nigeria, Gender, Ethnography, Infection