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    ‘No longer invincible’: the impact of involuntary childlessness on older men

    Hadley, RA (2021) ‘No longer invincible’: the impact of involuntary childlessness on older men. Physical Therapy Reviews, 26 (5). pp. 328-343. ISSN 1083-3196

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    Background: The global trend of declining fertility rates and an increasingly ageing population has led to increased scrutiny of parenthood. Although there are more childless men than childless women, there is very little research literature on the impact of male childlessness. The childless are absent from much social science literature, which has mainly focussed on family and women. Feminist studies into infertility and ageing have highlighted the absence of the male experience. Involuntary childlessness has been viewed as a complex bereavement formed by multiple losses. Distress levels in both men and women in this population have been found to be as high those with grave medical conditions. Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine older men’s experience of involuntary childlessness. Methods: This piece draws on my qualitative auto/biographical doctoral study that was framed by biographical, life course, gerontological, and feminist approaches. Data collection involved in-depth semi-structured biographical interviews with 14 self-defined involuntary childless men aged between 49 and 82 years from across the United Kingdom. A latent thematic analysis highlighted the complex intersections between agency, biology, childlessness, economics, mental and physical health, relationships, and socio-cultural structures. Major findings: Findings countered the stereotype that men are not interested in reproduction. I argue that that involuntary childlessness should be considered as a significant factor in older men’s poor health and social capital. Conclusions: This piece challenges the common narratives that the social, emotional, and relational aspects of involuntary childlessness do not affect men.

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