Unresolved grief in women and men in Sweden three years after undergoing unsuccessful in vitro fertilization treatment

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2010 Oct;89(10):1290-7. doi: 10.3109/00016349.2010.512063.


Objective: To explore the experience of undergoing unsuccessful in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment and of remaining childless 3 years after IVF in both women and men.

Design: Qualitative-approach study.

Sample: Ten women and nine men who had attended a public fertility clinic in Sweden.

Methods: Individual qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with qualitative content analysis guiding the analysis.

Results: Three years after the end of IVF treatment, most men and women were still processing and had not adapted to childlessness, indicating that the grieving process was unresolved. Unsuccessful IVF was experienced by women in terms of grief, whereas men took upon themselves a supportive role and did not express grief. A need for professional support and counseling in how to handle grief was described. An unstructured end after IVF treatment left unanswered questions.

Conclusions: The grieving process after unsuccessful IVF treatment was hampered among both men and women. The provision of additional individual support during IVF is recommended as men and women experienced childlessness differently. Support and counseling concerning grief reactions following IVF failure, and a structured final consultation after IVF may facilitate the grieving process after undergoing unsuccessful IVF treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / psychology*
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / psychology*
  • Infertility / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Failure