Breaking the silence: men’s experience of miscarriage

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Miscarriage is estimated to occur in one in four recognised pregnancies and is often an unexpected and traumatic event. The experience and psychological impact of miscarriage has been studied widely, but predominantly amongst women. When men are considered, much of the literature exploring their experience has been conducted using couple samples, is somewhat dated and sparse, is methodologically flawed and fails to exclusively explore ‘early miscarriage’ which has been suggested to embody an ambiguous type of loss. Also absent within the evidence base is research exploring the impact miscarriage has on considering future pregnancies. As such, the aim of this research was to adopt a qualitative approach to the exploration of solely men’s experience of miscarriage in contemporary society.
Method: Men with personal experience of miscarriage before 24 weeks gestation, in the past two years, were recruited via Tommy’s charity. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse the ten semi-structured interviews conducted.
Results: Three superordinate themes were identified. The first, ‘This is happening…we’re pregnant!’ captured how all men were invested in the pregnancy from either preconception or conception. ‘Left with empty arms, what now?’ uncovers what happened during and following miscarriage. The final theme illustrates that, despite others’ misunderstanding, ‘Men feel the loss too, you know’. Recognition of this loss is both craved and appreciated.
Conclusions: This study provides an important insight into the impact that miscarriage has on men and the planning of their families thereafter. The findings can be used to enhance health professionals’ understanding of men and miscarriage and assist in challenging both the taboo nature of the topic and outdated and unhelpful stereotypes. Future research should aim to replicate and expand on this study and the experiences of men from ethnically and socially diverse backgrounds, and those not in touch with support charities or services. Future research may also consider exploring the experiences from the perspective of same-sex or transgender partners.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAsh Summers (Supervisor) & Lisa Caygill (Supervisor)

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