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Keywords:

  • phenomenology;
  • lifeworld;
  • childlessness;
  • in vitro fertilization;
  • grief;
  • suffering;
  • caring

Approximately 15% of all couples in the reproductive age are involuntarily childless. Many of these couples consult medical experts for diagnosis and treatment but not all of them achieve the results. This paper describes a study of women's experiences of childlessness 2 years after the end of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, which represents the end of infertility treatment in Swedish society. Giorgi's method, based on Husserl's phenomenology with the lifeworld theory, was used. The participants were eight women treated at the Clinic of Reproductive Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden. Data were generated from transcriptions of taped interviews. Five constituents emerged from the analysis: (i) childlessness is a central issue in life, (ii) IVF is a positive and important part of life, (iii) contact with other people is not an important issue, (iv) the hope of achieving pregnancy still exists and (v) attempts to identify other central issues in life. The essence of all constituents is ‘life-grief’ and expresses the grief of being childless, of not reproducing, and being unable to confirm one's relationship through parenthood. The result is important in professional caring and presents a challenge to all midwives, nurses, physicians and other staff who are involved in the care of involuntarily childless women.