Muslim migrants face tough decisions to accept infertility treatments



When affected by infertility, Muslim couples face tough choices if to take infertility care or not. For them, religious beliefs play a key role in the acceptance of infertility care, the latter that should comply with religious guidelines. Many care options that are available for non Muslim couples are ruled out for Muslim ones. This issue is much harder for Muslim communities that live in western countries where they deal with doctors who don’t understand clearly the religious background of their Muslim patients.

A new research conducted by a group of researchers at The Netherlands Institute for Applied Scientific Research and published in an International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology has stressed out that “Religion plays a key role in infertility care for Muslim couples”. The research was in fact “two exploratory studies that aimed to identify the main problems with infertility care for Turkish and Moroccan couples living in the Netherlands.”

The study interviewed a group of “105 Turkish, Moroccan, and Dutch men and women” in addition to “twenty general practitioners, gynaecologists and andrologist” and found that it’s a tough matter for Muslim couples to make a decision when it comes to fertility treatment. “Their position as migrants living in a Western country results in extra problems. The available methods in Western countries do not comply with religious dictates and go beyond what is acceptable for Muslims.”

To face infertility, there are a number of scientific options such as the donation of semen and gametes, but these methods are not an option when it comes to the Islamic guidelines. The study found that “several Turkish people expressed dissatisfaction about their doctors proposing the semen or egg donation” and even “others complained that the doctor did not allow them to make their own decision about whether or not to use donor eggs or donor semen”.

However, the study finds that some Muslim couples are likely to accept the options available though they contradict their religious beliefs. According to the study “27% of women and 20% of men” are in favor of egg donation while “23% were for accepting oocytes and 3.4% were for accepting sperm.” The research also showed that “15% of the respondents were completely opposed to oocyte donation and more men were in favor than women.” 

According to study, more women are likely to accept the infertility care than men. “Women’s strong wish to have a child, amplified by the social norms about procreation, means they adopt a more flexible approach to the prohibitions of their religion and therefore explore their agency to fulfill their serious desire for offspring child” the study stated.

The study also mentioned that religion plays a role in the choice of gender of Doctor in some Muslim patients. It stated that there is a preference of “woman doctor in the Moroccan group, which even extended to the refusal of a male doctor by some husbands” and that implies that “religion is very important for Moroccan men in their preference for a female doctor for their wives.”

The study comes out with a conclusion that religion plays a key role in Muslim patients’ relation with treatments and Doctors, and the latter need to take religion into account when treating Muslim community. In this case of fertility issue “Many migrants have problems with infertility treatments because a large group feels insecure about what is allowed by their religion.” The study also noticed that “Doctors (…) are not always aware of the importance of religious prohibitions for fertility treatment.”


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