Qualitative methods, Infertility, Menopause



  1. Olshansky, Ellen DNSC, RNC, FAAN


Purpose: To explore women's experiences of menopause after infertility.


Design: Grounded theory


Method: Nine menopausal women, ranging in age from 48 to 72, with previous infertility, at various stages of the menopausal transition, including postmenopause, were interviewed in-depth. Three women had conceived a child after infertility treatment, three had adopted children, and three did not have children. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim for data analysis. Data were constantly compared against other data, including previous transcripts, to look for evidence of data saturation.


Results: A core concept was generated, referred to as "finally feeling normal." After feeling abnormal during infertility, these women viewed menopause as a normal transition. They were able to reconcile some aspects of their infertility and embrace a feeling of normalcy.


Clinical Implications: Menopause can be positive for women after infertility. Infertility contributed to a unique way of making meaning of menopause that was almost paradoxical: the notion that they can feel normal at the end of their "reproductive" years when they have struggled so long to actually be reproductive. Healthcare providers need to be cognizant of this possible response to menopause, and not automatically "pathologize" these women.