J Infertil Reprod Biol, 2018, Volume 6, Issue 2, Pages: 4-8. https://doi.org/10.47277/JIRB/6(2)/4  
Treatment Seeking Beliefs among Women with  
Infertility in Southern Ghana  
Nana Semuah Bressey , Florence Naab , Ernestina Safoa Donkor  
Ghana Health Service, Adjiringano Health Centre, Ghana  
Maternal & Child Health Department, School of Nursing and Midwifery, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon  
School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana  
Received: 02/02/2018  
Accepted: 09/04/2018  
Published: 20/06/2018  
To explore the beliefs associated with treatment-seeking for infertility among women with infertility in southern Ghana a  
qualitative descriptive design was used. Women with infertility were recruited through herbalists in the Accra Metropolis of  
Ghana. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 women with infertility through purposive and snowball sampling  
techniques. The findings revealed that women with infertility believed in consulting herbalists, seeking hospital treatment, and  
engaging in faith-based spiritual activities in order to have children. They believed that it was crucial to seek treatment for  
infertility. It was revealed that childless women believed in combining treatment remedies for effective benefits. The cultural  
beliefs and perceptions influenced the treatment-seeking behaviour of these women. These findings suggest that medical  
pluralism is unavoidable in the search for infertility treatment in Ghana. There is a need for further investigation into the impact  
of beliefs on treatment-seeking behaviour.  
Keywords: Infertility, Women, Behaviour, Attitude, Treatment  
Globally, 15% of couples in their reproductive age are  
affected by childlessness at a projected prevalence of 48.5  
to 70 million (1-3). In Africa, the prevalence of infertility  
ranges between 30-40% with much negative social  
impacts such as stigma, abuse, and economic challenges  
on women (4). Infertility causes serious emotional pain  
and throws a feeling of uncertainty on the lives of these  
women (5).  
Apart from the continuity of family lineage, childbirth  
in Africa is also important for economic security, where  
parents depend greatly on their children for support during  
old age. Therefore, after marriage, African couples are  
always under pressure to produce children (6). This  
pressure is an important factor in the treatment seeking  
behaviour of couples, especially women with infertility in  
about the type of treatment to seek. According to (13),  
60% of participants in a survey conducted in Saudi Arabia  
believed that childlessness was caused by an evil eye or  
envy. Furthermore, the beliefs around the use of ARTs in  
Islam may influence the attitudes towards ART and  
restrict care options (9). Undesirable beliefs around the  
safety, accessibility and cost of infertility treatment have  
been reported (14-16). The impact of these beliefs on the  
levels of depression, anxiety, stress, stigma, and social  
isolation among these women has also been reported to be  
problematic (17). By extension, these beliefs may also  
have an impact on the treatment seeking behaviour of  
these women because the belief about improving  
productivity is one of the reasons why women seek herbal  
medicine (12). It is also known that desperate and  
distressed women with infertility use herbs silently to help  
themselves (18). Thus, globally, cultural beliefs and  
perceptions drive women with infertility to adopt  
culturally appropriate treatments that are consistent with  
their beliefs (19).  
In Sub-Saharan Africa, it appears that cultural and  
religious beliefs and perceptions are the reasons for the  
popularity of herbal medicine because it is perceive to be  
economical, readily available and consistent with their  
culture (20, 21). According to Sonaliya (22), cultural  
perceptions restrict some women with infertility from  
seeking other forms of treatment. Furthermore, for some  
women, perceptions about the cause of infertility are  
enough to direct the needed treatment preference. Also,  
because of religious and cultural beliefs, when there is the  
need for ARTs, women in Iran are not eager to share their  
feelings about the treatment (23).  
A study in Rwanda reported that due to pressure, 11%  
n=277) of women visited a traditional healer (7) to seek  
treatment for difficulty to conceive, while in Nigerian 69%  
of couples with infertility were reported to seek care from  
traditional complementary treatment experts (8).  
Additionally, religious beliefs are also used to determine  
the behaviour and treatment of choice. For instance,  
Islamic beliefs about procreation have a substantial impact  
on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) users (9)  
because Muslim women with infertility are expected to  
only receive sperm from their husbands, anything else is  
considered adultery (10,11). In Iran, some women with  
infertility are reported to rant spiritual prayers during  
sexual intercourse believing that the behaviour will  
improve fertility (12).  
The cultural background of women with infertility  
seems to have an influence on their beliefs and perceptions  
In Ghana, 53% of women seeking infertility treatment  
Corresponding author: Florence Naab, Maternal & Child Health Department, School of Nursing and Midwifery, College of Health  
Sciences, University of Ghana, Email: florencenaab@yahoo.com