Background Little is known about the effects of recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) on the psychological adjustment of couples. The aim of this study was to elucidate psychological adjustment and RPL-associated psychosocial stress affecting Japanese couples with a history of RPL, focusing on gender differences and quality of the marital relationship.Methods The study included 76 RPL couples who visited the outpatient clinic of a tertiary hospital. They completed self-administered questionnaires that assessed RPL-associated stress, quality of their marital relationship (Quality Marriage Index, QMI), depression (Beck Depression Index) and anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory). Results Women showed significantly higher levels of depression, anxiety and RPL-associated personal and social stress compared with men. Although there were no differences in QMI scores and RPL-associated marital stress between men and women, women with a low perception of marital relationship quality (low QMI) had significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety compared with women with a moderate or high QMI. In contrast, depression and anxiety scores did not differ according to the quality of the marital relationship among men. Of 76 couples, 26 men (34) and 45 women (59) who had considered professional mental health consultations regarding their RPL status but had not yet initiated the process were more depressed and anxious than 48 men and 24 women, respectively, who had never considered such consultation. Conclusions Women were significantly more distressed than men. Poor quality of the marital relationship was significantly associated with impaired psychological adjustment among women, but not among men. These gender discrepancies may foster a mutual worsening of psychological adjustment and marital relationships in RPL couples. The need to seek help not only in women but also in a substantial portion of men suggests the importance of couple-based psychological care in the management of RPL.
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