The sentences follow a pattern of arrests and convictions targeting activists, journalists and artists that has served as a grim backdrop to President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to soften the country's image and improve relations with the West, including through the landmark nuclear agreement reached last summer.
Hard-liners in the police, judiciary and military view any rapprochement with the West as a threat to the Islamic Republic and a sign of moral decay.
Rights groups and analysts say those targeted in the ongoing crackdown on expression in Iran also serve as pawns in the hard-liners' struggle with moderates ahead of February's parliamentary elections.
"I think people thought with the nuclear deal, there would be sort of a bit of a thaw as well or a bit of an opening up," said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, the director of Free Expression Programs at PEN America, an organization promoting literature and freedom of speech.
"I think the judiciary is sort of pushing back and trying to make clear that there isn't going to be that opening people were hoping for."
Fatemeh Ekhtesari, a practicing obstetrician, and Mehdi Mousavi, a trained doctor who teaches literature and poetry, were first arrested in December 2013, months after Rouhani took office.
Earlier this month, Ekhtesari received an 11½-year prison sentence, while Mousavi got nine years on charges ranging from propaganda against the state to "insulting sanctities," as well as the lashings, according to PEN.
Iran has always restricted the arts, but both writers previously had published books of poetry with the permission of government censors.
Karlekar said the judiciary was waiting for a case where it could "make a demonstration and send a message by giving a very, very harsh sentence." Read more: