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Understanding the Psychological Trauma of Infertility and Pregnancy Loss in Women

Jun 8, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jun 8, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


The research paper tries to examine the psychological impact of infertility on women. The article will examine three research articles done separately. These include the summary of research on pregnancy loss and infertility trauma among mothers and involuntary childless women in United States, research on the impact of infertility diagnosis on psychological status of women undergoing fertility treatment, research on infertility and the role of psychotherapy. Lastly, the article will discuss the findings, limitations and the proposed are of study.

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The research article reports on the psychological impacts of infertility on women. Infertile women have over the years suffered grief, anxiety, stigmatization and stress in finding the psychological support to their plight which is lacking in most medical facilities. The article details infertility and the related psychological impact on infertile women and slightly on couples.


The psychological impact infertility on women is an area which has minimal research and affects many women in the world. The psychological grief, anxiety and stress infertile women undergoes on a daily basis is unbearable. It is saddening that most of the hospitals and the research institutions have not ventured into this area to assist the women. Research indicates that many women suffer from infertility and other related reproductive problems.

This article presents some detailed and shocking results from the area of psychology as it brings out the true picture of the situation infertile women undergoes. Therefore, as an interested party, everybody has a role to play be it socially, psychologically and physically. As a reader, you will find some important information on the topic.

Summary of Research on Pregnancy Loss and Infertility Trauma among Mothers and Involuntary Childless Women in United States

This is an experimental research which examines the long term psychological reactions and outcomes of infertility and pregnancy loss among involuntary childless women and mothers. The results indicate that childless women who had experienced loss of pregnancy or conception failure reported lowest life satisfaction and depression for a long period of time. However, dual or multiple pregnancy loss reported fertility related distress (Schwerdtfeger et al, 2009).

Pregnancy loss

The data from the national survey of fertility barriers of 2007 indicates that approximately 30% of women fertility problems (Schwerdtfeger et al, 2009). Infertility can be defined as the inability to conceive after regular and unprotected sex for a period of one year. Pregnancy loss is a reproductive problem common in many American women.

According to Schwerdtfeger et al (2009), survey indicates that 0.5% in approximation of the clinically recognized pregnancies in America results in still birth and 14% results to miscarriages. Research further indicates that women experience different psychological distress after the pregnancy loss including anxiety, grief and guilt. Moreover, these outcomes on women are sustained over time often thus resulting to marital conflict and extensive stress

Involuntary childlessness

Schwerdtfeger et al, (2009) points out that 4% of the couples in America women remain childless involuntary. Report further shows that they do report mourn and deep feelings for children they never had. Furthermore, involuntary childlessness is associated with greater depression and anxiety, health complaints and complicated grief among women.

Infertility and pregnancy loss as a trauma

Conceptualization of a pregnancy loss as a traumatic stress is worth adopting. When a woman about to deliver end up miscarrying, the loss which follows is mostly termed as the death a child. This is because the embryo is always an embodiment of the hope of the couples for parenthood and therefore women express emotions of loss, grief and trauma (Schwerdtfeger et al, 2009).

Posttraumatic stress disorder can develop in persons who learn, witness, experience a traumatic event. The pregnancy loss experience often results to feelings of sadness, fear, anxiety, loss of security, loss of self and loss or personal comfort. The purpose of this study which is current was to explore the relationship between infertility and experiences of women which are unique in the context of childlessness and the development of psychological outcomes which are negative (Schwerdtfeger et al, 2009).


Lack of advancement in particular family life cycles and involuntary childlessness be classified fittingly as a significant stressor which is traumatic to women.



According to Schwerdtfeger et al (2009), the sample came from Random digit dial of a data set of 4712 of child bearing age women (25-45) and National Survey of Fertility Barriers. Collection of data was done between February 2007 and September 2004.


The data removed women who are childless and has never attempted to conceive and those who has given birth but experienced other problems of infertility other than pregnancy loss. Data was balanced so that the sample could represent the population in terms of household income, education and barriers of fertility.


According to Schwerdtfeger et al (2009)

  • If a respondent answered YES in the question “have you ever given birth?” and did not indicate any biomedical barrier when getting pregnant, they were coded mothers.
  • If a responded indicates that had a previous pregnancy loss and had given birth, they were coded mothers, pregnancy loss.
  • If a respondent answered yes to not giving birth and has had a miscarriage, they were coded childless.
  • If the respondent answered NO to “have you ever been pregnant” question and also indicated having a biomedical barrier, they were coded infertile and childless.


According to Schwerdtfeger et al (2009), from the study, the results showed that majority were mothers and the involuntary childless formed the 12%. The mothers who did not experience any biomedical problems of the reproductive plus the loss of pregnancy formed 46%. Women who had experienced pregnancy loss formed 42 % and finally the childless women who had experience loss of pregnancy contributed 4%. Moreover, the infertile women who had not conceived at the interview time made the 8%.

Discussion of the impacts

The study results suggest that the infertility, loss of pregnancy and childlessness has an impact on the women. When comparing the reports from women about pregnancy loss history, infertility and those who reported no problems in fertility, significant problems comes out in depression, life satisfaction and self esteem.

On the other hand women who indicated previous pregnancy loss reported less life satisfaction and more symptoms of depression than women with no problems of fertility. This research concurred with the previous researches on identification of infertility and loss of pregnancy as distressing, difficult and traumatic (Schwerdtfeger et al, 2009).

Summary of Research on the Impact of Infertility Diagnosis on Psychological Status of Women Undergoing Fertility Treatment

The objective of this cross sectional study was to assess the infertility diagnosis impact on the levels of women depression, anxiety and stress related to fertility. The study was done on 404 women who were undergoing fertility treatment in Athens in a public clinic (Lykeridou et al, 2007).

Question for research

What is the impact on Infertility diagnosis on the psychological status of women under treatment of infertility?


The infertility diagnosis factor will influence the psychological status of the women



To achieve the largest percentage of the data base required, the study was conducted in the largest infertility public clinic in Greece because it serves the urban and the rural folks.

Data collection and study design

It was a cross sectional survey where three questionnaires were administered to the participants for data collection and the data was collected from 2005 November to 2006 September for a period of 11 months. The participants were first informed prior and necessary explanations and clarifications made. The questionnaires included:

  • The state-trait anxiety inventory questionnaire
  • COMPI questionnaire
  • Centre For Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale


Were infertile women undergoing treatment and the criteria for inclusion of the chosen women were:

  • Have ability to read and write in Greek
  • Married
  • Had unsuccessfully tried to conceive through natural ways for one year
  • Had infertility problem for less than three years
  • Had already had an infertility diagnosis.36.9 was the mean age of the participants


According to Lykeridou et al (2007), the mean duration of infertility was 2 years and majority of the participants had infertility treatment experiences. 86% reported having no children and 14% from the report had at least one child.

The mean score of state anxiety among the participants was 44.5 and trait anxiety was 41.8. Moreover, 84% had low score in CES-D, an indication of symptoms of non-depression (Lykeridou et al, 2007).

Educational level was highly associated with low levels of anxiety in women, depression and social stress. This simply means low education level women had higher mean scores of depression. Additionally, infertility diagnosis effect on psychological status indicated that anxiety in women and stress related to infertility were affected by diagnosis of infertility.


The first aim of this study was to measure the perceived depression, anxiety and stress related to fertility on infertile women undergoing treatment of infertility. The findings suggests that the state and trait mean scores (44.5 and 41.8 respectively) of women who are infertile and are undergoing treatment of infertility were much higher than the normative scores of state published (35.2) and trait anxiety (34.8).

The findings also indicated that women who are infertile had low levels of marital, social and personal fertility related stress. The explanation may be because of the of the years of experience in infertility, the participants may have developed ways of handling stress associated with infertility.

The low levels of stress related to infertility and low mean scores in CES-D scale  are expected since only women who are infertile and are well psychologically can confront the emotional burden of going for medical help and infertility treatment.

Summary of Research on infertility and the role of psychotherapy

This correlation research paper gives detailed psychological issues that are involved in psychotherapy by the people affected by infertility and also suggests interventions and the need for expansion of clinical psychiatric specialists. Furthermore, it tries to examine the aspects of psychology in experiencing infertility.

Prevalence of infertility-background

Infertility can be defined as the inability to achieve conception by couple after unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or inability of a woman to carry pregnancy until the time for birth (Valerie, 2002). The research findings in psychological issues in infertility can be divided on treatment on men, women and couple.

Research on women

The response of mood to the infertility diagnosis has been connected to models of grief or bereavement, stress or anxiety, depression. Valerie (2002) studied the levels of depression, grief and the mechanisms for coping of 100 women who either had ovulation induction medication or vitro fertilization. In their findings, they found that both groups of women experienced different levels of depression and grief which are measurable before, during and after the treatment.           Neither financial impact nor years of infertility and age influenced the reported levels of depression and grief. However, the loss is experienced in terms of being infertile, expectations of controlling the world and loss of trust in one’s body.        Similarly, the losses experienced by women are invincible and include security, self esteem, faith and control (Valerie, 2002).

Research on men

A study done on the relationship between semen quality and the psychological stress in men undergoing vitro fertilization indicates that the decline in quality of semen was significant and portrayed an inverse relationship between psychological stress and semen quality (Valerie, 2002).

Moreover, on the research on coping with infertility on men, the results showed that men use plan in problem solving, seek social support, appraise themselves positively and avoid escape unlike women.

Research on couples

Valerie (2002) points out that the coping mechanism for couple suffering from infertility is isolation. They cannot bear a world where signs of fertility are common place. Furthermore, attending social functions such as family birthdays and baby showers prove impossible to bear. The stress in couple is due to guilt, blame, shame and stigmatization.

Integrated discussion

From the three research articles I was able to learn a lot in relation to my topic of study of psychological impact of infertility on women. From the article, Research on Pregnancy Loss and Infertility Trauma among Mothers and Involuntary Childless Women in United States. I understood the social impacts infertility has on the couple especially the infertile women.

The second article, Research on the Impact of Infertility Diagnosis on Psychological Status of Women Undergoing Fertility Treatment, I learnt a lot on the impact on the women after they have been diagnosed with infertility. I realized some women develop coping mechanism and accept infertility as part of their lives.

The article on Research on infertility and the role of psychotherapy, I was able to learn the importance of the psychotherapy on infertile women do reduce their levels of stress, grief and anxiety. It is important that after diagnosis, the patient commence psychotherapy.

I would like to conduct a research on psychological impact of infertility on men. This is because of the limitations in all the researches. They exclude the men factor despite that a large percentage of men are also being affected by infertility either as husbands or as being impotent.

In conclusion, the paper has exclusively analyzed different aspects of psychological impacts on women. However, it touched slightly on the men factor which I believe the next research I will do will major on.


Schwerdtfeger, K. L., & Shreffler, K. M. (May 01, 2009). Trauma of Pregnancy Loss and             Infertility Among Mothers and Involuntarily Childless Women in the United States. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 14, 3, 211-227.

Lykeridou, K., Gourounti, K., Deltsidou, A., Loutradis, D., & Vaslamatzis, G. (August 01,           2009). The impact of infertility diagnosis on psychological status of women undergoing          fertility treatment. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 27, 3, 223-237.

Valerie  A.Hart., (2002).Infertiluty and the Role of Psychotherapy. College of Nursing and           Health Professions, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, USA







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