Original Articles

The “Lived Pain” Experience: The Case of Women Undergoing IVF treatments

Published in: Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology
Volume 11, issue 1, 2011 , pages: 1–10
DOI: 10.2989/IPJP.2011.


This research used the embodied approach to analyse the pain experiences of 25 heterosexually married Israeli-Jewish women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments for a first pregnancy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to allow the women to openly discuss issues concerning their perceptions of pain. Research findings show that the women’s pain perceptions dictated two distinct categories of discourse. The first category of discourse surfaced in the accounts of 14 of the interviewees. Women belonging to this category expressed their willingness to “do everything for a child”. These women insisted on silencing pain and considered it to be irrelevant. They refused to locate bodily pains at the centre of their experience, fearing that this would delay their goal of reproducing. The second discourse of pain emerged from the accounts of 11 interviewees. This discourse was associated with women’s motivation to maintain an active dialogue with painful experiences. They obstinately sought to direct internal attentiveness to what was happening inside their bodies. This approach enabled them to define body boundaries and form an active negotiation with the authority treating their bodies. The research findings suggest that women who share the same socio- cultural environment (Israeli pronatalism) and physical circumstances (the inability to conceive) have varied and wideranging interpretations of pain. It seems that medical authorities can benefit the understanding of pain by providing new support resources to women undergoing IVF treatments.

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