Examining the Presentation of Infertility Issues by Newspapers in Uganda

Ann Mugunga

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This study explored how the health concern of infertility has been framed by newspapers in Uganda from 2008 to 2018, and analyzed how these frames have changed over the 10-year study period. Discussion of infertility, the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to live birth after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse or after six months in women over age 35 is generally taboo in Uganda. Thus, the media have historically tended to steer clear of presentation of such issues. According to the Ministry of Health in the country, however, approximately 15% of the married heterosexual couples in Uganda experience infertility, but discourse has gravitated towards a female-gender shame-and-blame game, with minimum effort to comprehensively address underlying causes and possible responses. The framing analysis, which focuses on an issue and how it is presented by the media to organize or structure social meanings (Berinsky & Kinder, 2006) was used in this qualitative content analysis study, and the results show that newspapers frame infertility consistently with social-cultural beliefs that it is the women’s problem. None of the articles made it to page one of the newspapers and most coverage was generated from letters to the editor, although there were no considerable disparities in the gender  focus of the stories. Further frames included episodic coverage, as well as blaming the female gender for causing infertility. Such framing may negatively impact health seeking behavior among those faced with infertility. Themes related to intervention and solution seeking were identified as key in raising awareness about and dealing with infertility. The implications of these results for media and health practitioners in addressing infertility issues are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Pages (from-to)89-104
JournalJournalism and Mass Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • infertility
  • taboo
  • framing
  • causes
  • solutions


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