Background: Fertility preservation is important for women of reproductive age with cervical cancer. The underlying reasons behind suboptimal reproductive results after successful fertility-preserving surgery have not yet been fully revealed.
Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the experience of fertility preservation with radical trachelectomy from the perspective of women with cervical cancer.
Methods: We conducted interviews with women with cervical cancer who underwent radical trachelectomy using a Grounded Theory methodology with a theoretical framework of symbolic interactionism.
Results: Our findings articulate a process in which feminine identity is first threatened by a diagnosis of cancer, then repaired by fertility preservation with radical trachelectomy, and finally reconstructed after the surgery, through interactions with self, others, and external events in women with cervical cancer. Feeling incomplete as a woman because of the loss of the uterus was a critical factor in the women’s feeling that their feminine identity was threatened. Thus, fertility preservation was significant for these women. The meaning of fertility preservation varied among the women, and their life perspectives were therefore distinct after the surgery.
Conclusions: Women with cervical cancer who undergo radical trachelectomy experience an identity transformation process, and child bearing is not the only expected outcome of fertility preservation.
Implications for Practice: Nurses should coordinate care through the cancer trajectory. Understanding the identity transformation process helps nurses to assess patients’ needs and provide appropriate individual care.