Experiences of sub-fertility among Chinese couples in Hong Kong: A qualitative study

Jean Tak Alice Loke Yuen, Pui Ling Yu, Mark Hayter

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Aim. This study aimed to explore the lived experience of sub-fertility among Chinese couples in Hong Kong. Background. In Chinese culture, the duty of young married couples is to bear children to carry on the family line. Married couples who are unable to bear children often experience personal psychological stress and social pressure. Design. Qualitative, exploratory study. Methods. Seven women and four men in Hong Kong were interviewed to explore their lived experiences of being involuntarily childless. Collaizi's phenomenological methods guided data collection and analysis. Results. Sub-fertile couples reported feelings of incompleteness, guilt, shame and isolation from the 'fertile' world. These couples acknowledged that sub-fertility had implications on their marital relationship and regretted not having treatment earlier. Some found ways to replace their 'loss' and to cope with their situation, and some rationalised by finding reasons that favoured being childless. Discussion. It is recommended that family planning should be incorporated into premarital screening and to provide timely support and counselling. Relevance to clinical practice. Family planning and fertility should be incorporated into premarital counselling. Sub-fertile couples should be encouraged to seek medical help, being provided with early referral for investigation and treatment and with support and counselling. Health care professionals should respect the decisions of sub-fertile couples with regard to investigations or assisted reproductive services. They should also assess how each partner interprets the situation if they encountered difficulty in dealing with the situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-512
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • China
  • Qualitative study
  • Reproductive health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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