Coming to Terms With Permanent Involuntary Childlessness: A Phenomenological Analysis of Bulletin Board Postings

Sumaira H. Malik, Neil S. Coulson


Little is known about the role that online support communities play in the lives of women faced with permanent involuntary childlessness. To understand the experiences of these women, this study conducted a thematic analysis of messages downloaded from an online community for permanent involuntary childlessness. Four central themes were identified: Feeling like an “outsider”, A whole lifetime of loss, Coming to terms with childlessness and Finding a safe haven online. These findings show that the online community appeared to empower women to move on with their lives and discover a new sense of self-worth and identity beyond that of motherhood.


infertility; online support; involuntary childlessness; social support; internet; psychosocial well-being

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