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.