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Infertility care in the Netherlands for Turkish and Moroccan migrants: the role of religion in focus

Author: Korfker, D.G. · Rooij, F. van · Buitendijk, S.E. · Detmar, S.B. · Reis, R.
Source:Obstetrics and Gynecology
Identifier: 503262
doi: doi:10.5171/2014.913057
Article number: 913057
Keywords: Health · Infertility care · Turkish and Moroccan Migrants · Islamic religion · Agency and Structure · Healthy for Life · Healthy Living · Behavioural Changes · CH - Child Health · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Infertility treatments are difficult to understand, and doubly so for migrants because of religious and language factors. Previous studies showed that religion plays an important role in infertility care for Muslim couples that doctors do not always understand. The data presented here come from two exploratory studies that aimed to identify the main problems with infertility care for Turkish and Moroccan couples living in the Netherlands. In the first study, 105 Turkish, Moroccan and Dutch men and women were interviewed. In the second study, twenty general practitioners, gynaecologists and andrologists were interviewed by telephone. Additionally, three gynaecologists were interviewed in Morocco. A thematic analysis was conducted of the qualitative data. Almost all migrants had experienced problems with infertility treatments because they felt insecure about what was allowed by their religion. Moroccan men in particular doubt whether Dutch doctors are sufficiently acquainted with Islam and so they turn to Morocco for information and advice. Men stick to the rules and their agency is to follow the dictates of their religion. Women seem willing to be more flexible about the rules and navigate their agency. Doctors assumed that they took the religion of their patients into account, but they were not always fully aware of the importance of religious prohibitions. Others failed to take into account the agency of their patients. Conclusion: The situation in a new country challenges couples to shape their own agency in respect of reproductive treatment. Doctors are not always aware of the importance of religious doctrine about infertility treatment.