The Importance of Motherhood: A Community Based Study of Infertility in Moshi, Northern Tanzania

Ulla M. Larsen, University of Maryland
Marida Hollos, Brown University

This paper examines the ramifications of infertility and coping mechanisms in an African urban population with low fertility. The study was conducted in Moshi, Tanzania. The methodology included a survey of 2,019 women and in-depth interviews with 25 fertile and 25 infertile women. Of the 1,549 sexually active women 2.7% had never had a child in spite of trying to conceive for at least 2 years. Out of the 1,352 women who had previously had a child an additional 6.1% were subsequently infertile. A logistic regression analysis suggested that infertile women were more likely to have been married at least twice and to be infected with Trichomonas. The most important finding from the qualitative analysis concerns the major difference between childlessness and subsequent infertility in terms of implications for the effected women. Childless women were stigmatized, were called names such as "gumba" and "tasa" and had little respect in the community.

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Presented in Session 50: Interactions Between Fertility and Reproductive Health