The experience of spontaneous pregnancy loss for infertile women who have conceived through assisted reproduction technology

Hum Reprod. 2010 Mar;25(3):714-20. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dep445. Epub 2009 Dec 19.


Background: The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to explore the subjective experiences of infertile women who conceived through the use of assisted reproduction technology--ovarian stimulation, intrauterine insemination or IVF--only to lose their pregnancy at 2-16 weeks gestation.

Methods: Ten women participated in in-depth, tape-recorded interviews. After initial content analysis, a phenomenological analysis was undertaken to identify common themes in the participants' stories.

Results: Nine common themes were identified. These included: a sense of profound loss and grief; diminished control; a sense of shared loss with their partners; injustice or lack of fairness; ongoing reminders of the loss; social awkwardness; fear of re-investing in the treatment process or a subsequent pregnancy; the need to make sense of their experience; and feelings of personal responsibility for what had happened.

Conclusions: Participants' experiences of pregnancy loss were embedded within their experiences of infertility and medical treatment, and shaped by their significant investment in having a child. A significant feature was their marked ambivalence regarding future reproductive options after their pregnancy loss, reflecting a unique overlay of prominent anxiety in their grief experience.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / psychology*
  • Infertility, Female / therapy
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / psychology*
  • Social Support