The meaning of risk has changed from its nineteenth century inception; formerly a neutral idea that took account of the probability of both losses and gains, the notion of risk now has primarily negative connotations. As the cultural dialogue on risk has evolved, so have opinions about what constitutes a risk to health. This chapter traces the development of ideas about risk in women's and men's decisions about infertility treatment. The notion of living with risk is very different from biomedical definitions of risk. Women's and men's perceptions of risk are also affected by specific health issues, and these views may differ considerably from practitioners' views. As contemporary societies become increasingly medicalized, it may be difficult for people facing risks in medical treatment to resist such treatment. Most medical treatments for infertility are carried out on women, even some procedures designed to compensate for their partner's infertility.
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