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Masturbation, semen collection and men's IVF experiences: Anxieties in the Muslim world

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Inhorn, Marcia. 2007. "Masturbation, semen collection and men's IVF experiences: Anxieties in the Muslim world." Body and Society, 13(3): 37-53.

This article explores issues of embodiment among Middle Eastern Muslim men seeking in vitro fertilization services (IVF) in Egypt and Lebanon. IVF requires semen collection, routinely achieved through masturbation in IVF clinics. Some Western feminist scholars have questioned men's relatively insignificant contribution to the IVF-seeking process-especially when compared to the significant and even dangerous embodiment experienced by women undergoing IVE However, men's own anxiety-ridden embodied experiences of semen collection have been both underestimated and ignored in the scholarly literature on assisted reproduction. Men's pressures to perform 'on demand' at the moment of egg retrieval in IVF have been noted as a significant source of anxiety in Euro-American IVF treatment settings. In the Muslim world, such anxieties may be heightened because of the guilt associated with masturbation - an act religiously associated with impurity and illicit sexuality. This article examines Middle Eastern Muslim men's anxieties surrounding masturbation, both as a perceived cause of their own infertility and as a cause of performance anxiety during the IVF cycle. The clinical means of extracting sperm from men's bodies - how and where it is done, including what happens when it falls - are described, with a focus on men's own embodied experiences and anxious discourses surrounding masturbation in the IVF clinic.

DOI:10.1177/1357034X07082251 (Full Text)

Countries of focus: Egypt, Lebanon.

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