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J Midwifery Womens Health. 2013 Mar-Apr;58(2):182-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00234.x. Epub 2013 Mar 4.

Female fertility: a conceptual and dimensional analysis.

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  • 1Marquette University College of Nursing, PO Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA.



Female fertility is commonly described as the biological nature of women, yet different meanings emerge when one takes a holistic approach to fertility while considering varying contexts and perspectives. An improved understanding of female fertility will enhance health care professionals' understanding of female fertility and improve communication with women and other health care professionals. This article presents a conceptual and dimensional analysis of female fertility.


A search of the literature included the databases CINAHL, PsycINFO, Philosopher's Index, and Web of Science. Concept and dimensional analyses were performed using the Rogers' methodology and the Caron and Bowers' framework to define female fertility and explore the concept. Articles were examined to identify definitions, dimensions, perspectives, antecedents, and consequences of female fertility.


Biological self, psychosexual self, power, and paradox are the attributes of female fertility. The contexts of menarche, menstruation, menopause, infertility, fertility goals, society and culture, and health care were explored. Perspectives included those of women across many different fertility stages as well as perspectives of various clinicians. Necessary antecedents were sexual decision making and influences of culture and society. Consequences were realized fertility, stress, and an understanding of self. A definition of fertility was proposed: Female fertility is a paradoxical phenomenon of power between the biological and psychosexual self.


Antecedents, attributes, and consequences derived from the fertility literature can be used by health care providers for patient education and therapeutic interventions. This concept analysis may assist in facilitation of a greater understanding of biological and psychosexual self, as they relate to fertility across the lifespan.

© 2013 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

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