Recurrent pregnancy loss: a shared stressor—couple-orientated psychological research findings

Men and women affected with recurrent pregnancy loss show high risks for depression and anxiety. Communicating with others, a satisfying relationship, and having a child together each serve as protective factors.

VOLUME 114, ISSUE 6, P1288-1296


Pauline Voss, Maren Schick, M.S., Laila Langer, M.D., Asrin Ainsworth, Beate Ditzen, Ph.D., Thomas Strowitzki, M.D., Tewes Wischmann, Ph.D., Ruben J. Kuon, M.D.



To compare the psychological impact of recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) on affected men and women and to determine risk and protective factors in both partners.


Cross-sectional study.


University-affiliated fertility center.


Ninety female/male couples and 14 women.


Participants completed a questionnaire covering psychological risk factors (ScreenIVF), experience of pregnancy losses, coping strategies, and partnership satisfaction.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Comparison of psychological risk factors, perception of RPL, and coping strategies between both partners and analysis of the influence of risk and protective factors.


In the ScreenIVF, 72.7% of women versus 66.3% of men showed a risk for anxiety, 51.7% versus 19.1% a risk for depression, and 28.1% versus 30.7% a risk for limited social support. The use of avoiding coping styles seems to be less favorable with regard to the psychological risk than active strategies. Having a child together and a satisfying partnership correlated with a lower risk for depression. Sharing the experience of RPL with others and being in a satisfying relationship correlated with a higher social support.


Both men and women affected by RPL show high risks for developing depression and anxiety, underlining the importance of also including the male partners. The factors of communication with others, a satisfying relationship, and already having a child together correlate with decreased psychological risks. We advocate for health care professionals to implement screening for anxiety, depression, and social support for both partners and support them in dealing with RPL.

Registration Number

The study is registered in the German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS), number DRKS00014965.