Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: Effects on quality of life and day-to-day function

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2018 Jun;58(3):278-290. doi: 10.1111/ajo.12714. Epub 2017 Sep 26.


Aims: To investigate the effect of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) on quality of life (QoL) and activities of daily living/socioeconomic function in a contemporary Australian setting.

Materials and methods: Observational, single centre prospective cohort study using validated survey instruments in pregnant women at 9-16 weeks gestation at a tertiary metropolitan women's hospital in Sydney, Australia. QoL measured by the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12) was compared between those with and without NVP. NVP severity scores were correlated with QoL scores, work patterns and medication use.

Results: Of 116 participants, 72% had NVP, with no baseline (including mental health) differences between women with or without NVP. As classified by modified Pregnancy-Unique-Quantified-Emesis (PUQE) survey, 42% had mild symptoms, 55% moderate and 1% severe. SF-12 Physical Component Summary (PCS) scores were significantly lower for those with NVP (P < 0.001), but not Mental Component Summary (MCS) scores (P = 0.11). Decreasing QoL was associated with increasing NVP severity (P < 0.001), most markedly in the physical domain (P < 0.001). Only 39% of women used any NVP treatment and 15% pharmacotherapy. Most used treatments were vitamin B6 , ginger, metoclopramide and natural remedies. Significantly more women with NVP required time off work (45% vs 16%, P = 0.003).

Conclusions: NVP is a physically morbid disease, affecting most pregnancies. NVP has a significant detrimental impact on QoL, especially physical QoL and work function. Despite this, we found low treatment utilisation, even in those with moderate/severe symptoms. Women should be encouraged to seek assistance for NVP and further education is required to improve practitioner awareness and management.

Keywords: antiemetics; hyperemesis gravidarum; pregnancy; quality of life; vomiting.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum / drug therapy
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum / psychology*
  • Metoclopramide / therapeutic use
  • New South Wales
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antiemetics
  • Metoclopramide