While the loss of a pregnancy is devastating, a single miscarriage does not impact the ability to become pregnant again or to carry a pregnancy to term. Usually occurring within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, miscarriages are often caused by genetic errors in the eggs, sperm, or conception process that would not result in a healthy child. The causes are usually unknown, and future attempts at pregnancy are usually successful in 87% of cases. While some may not be physically or emotionally ready to try again for another pregnancy immediately after a miscarriage, there is no harm in trying again whenever a woman feels she is ready.
Up to 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, with 75% occurring within the first 12 weeks. Since many early miscarriages occur before women realize they were pregnant, the miscarriage rate may be even higher. While 50 to 60% of them are due to defective chromosomes, other causes include:
- Abnormal hormone levels that can prevent egg implantation in the uterus
- Uterine factors such as a misshapen uterus
- Infections from German measles (rubella)
- Environmental toxins, whether from chemicals such as formaldehyde, gasoline, arsenic, oxide, and more, or toxic substances such as tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and marijuana
- Immunological factors that regard the fetus as a foreign substance
Investigating Causes of Miscarriage
If you suffer more than one miscarriage, further conception is possible, but you should see an OB/Gyn who will perform tests to see if there are underlying factors that might lead to an additional miscarriage and assess whether you need further specialist evaluation and treatment.
These procedures might include:
- Blood tests to determine hormone issues
- Chromosomal tests to see if the parents have problems that might contribute to miscarriage Providing a sample of the fetal tissue is helpful, if possible
- Ultrasound to review bodily structures
- Hysteroscopy to examine the uterine cavity
- Hysterosalpinography to highlight the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes with dye
- Sonohystogram to examine the uterine lining
Even after all these tests, your physician may not be able to definitively offer a reason for repeated miscarriages. About 60 to 70% of those with multiple miscarriages later produce healthy infants.
Moving on After Miscarriage
Many women who miscarry are filled with guilt that they did something wrong because they lost the pregnancy. Since the process is a natural occurrence, often of unknown causes, the guilt is misplaced but the emotional effects can be traumatic. Once the parents process the grief, there are several proactive steps a woman can take to improve the chances of another pregnancy:
- Pursue a healthy lifestyle that does not include heavy drinking, smoking, drug use, or even an abundance of caffeine
- Reducing stress which can impact fertility levels and, when pregnant, the fetus
- Eating a diet that includes the right amount of healthy foods
Most people are able to conceive, but if pregnancy does not occur, you can visit a fertility doctor for additional testing, drugs, and other therapies. Contact Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center if you need help determining what went wrong or want to explore potential fertility issues after a miscarriage.