Introduction: Situating Infertility in Medicine

  • Gayle DavisEmail author
  • Tracey Loughran


This section introduction explores medical approaches to infertility in a variety of geographical contexts and chronological periods, considering how doctors have conceptualized, diagnosed, and responded to infertility as a condition. The chapters in this section examine the historical shaping of medical understandings of infertility, how access to treatment has been mediated by social, political, and scientific factors, and the medical construction and treatment of ‘deviant’ sexualities. Indeed, it has often proved impossible to separate medical and moral discourses. These chapters also lament an historical failure to record the patient’s voice, and suggest the very limited extent to which patient autonomy was compatible with medical authority. The section thereby offers rich insights into medical thinking and practice on infertility, and into the broad interface between medicine, science, and culture.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of History, Classics and ArchaeologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of HistoryUniversity of EssexColchesterUnited Kingdom

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