Understanding the Underlying Causes of Miscarriage
Losing a baby can be devastating. Our team at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health can help patients understand the underlying causes of a miscarriage and recommend treatments to help ensure successful pregnancy and prevent recurrent miscarriage. Contact our Phoenix, AZ, practice to learn more about how we may be able to improve your chances for a future, successful pregnancy.
The medical definition of miscarriage is the loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy. Almost 50 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, usually before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. Once a pregnancy has progressed to more recognizable stages, this number drops to around 15 percent.
If you are pregnant and notice cramps, abdominal pain, fever, or progressively heavier bleeding, these may be signs of a miscarriage. Contact your obstetric healthcare provider immediately.
The causes of miscarriages are not always clear. The most common cause is chromosomal abnormality - in other words, a problem in the genes. Creating new life is a difficult and complex process and it is not unusual for the body to make mistakes. If such an error results in an abnormality in a baby’s genes, the body will spontaneously abort the pregnancy. Parents should keep in mind that these chromosomal abnormalities are completely a matter of chance and not related to any health problems.
Miscarriage may be the result of a number of other factors, as well, including:
- Exposure to environmental or workplace hazards (such as high levels of radiation or toxic agents)
- Hormonal issues
- Incompetent cervix (a condition in which the cervix prematurely widens in the middle of pregnancy without the typical signs of pain or labor)
- Uterine abnormalities
- Lifestyle factors (such as smoking, alcohol consumption, or use of certain drugs)
- Immune system disorders (such as lupus)
- Chronic illness (such as congenital heart disease or severe kidney disease)
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Certain medications (such as the acne treatment Accutane®)
- Severe malnutrition
- Age (especially among women over the age of 35)
Because there is such a wide range of conditions and environmental hazards that can contribute to a miscarriage, it may be hard to pinpoint an exact cause. However, there is no evidence that stress, physical activity, or sexual activity can lead to miscarriage.
Miscarriage is not necessarily a sign of a fertility problem. At least 85 percent of women who have had miscarriages go on to have completely normal pregnancies and births. However, 1 to 2 percent of women may go through two or more miscarriages in a row, a condition which is referred to as recurrent miscarriage. If you have suffered more than two consecutive miscarriages, you will be advised to stop trying to conceive immediately and begin taking birth control, for your own safety.
It is extremely important that the reason behind recurrent miscarriage be identified. While miscarriage itself cannot be treated or prevented, the underlying problems leading to it can be addressed. A number of diagnostic tests are available to help determine the cause and a potential treatment. Treating problems such as chronic illness, uncontrolled diabetes, or an incompetent cervix can significantly improve your chance for a successful pregnancy.
Recovering from Miscarriage
Going through a miscarriage can be a harrowing experience, both physically and emotionally. Overnight observation and bed rest are typically prescribed in the days afterward to aid recuperation. But while a woman’s body usually heals within a few days, emotional recovery may take longer. Counseling and pregnancy loss support groups can be invaluable resources during this time. Your healthcare provider can offer a wealth of resources and information on coping with loss after a miscarriage.
Above all, it is important to remember that miscarriage is not your fault. While underlying problems may exist, a miscarriage is ultimately up to chance.
Contact Our Fertility Clinic Today
Here at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health, we understand that miscarriage can be an emotionally draining experience. We are dedicated to providing exceptional care that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of miscarriage. For further information on how we can help you through this difficult time, contact our fertility clinic today.