Understanding Ectopic Pregnancies and Pregnancy Health
An ectopic pregnancies affect 1-2% of all pregnancies and up to 4% of those receiving reproductive assistance. Read about what ectopic pregnancies are here.
Miscarriage is a difficult subject that is rarely discussed due to its stigma and heartache, even though it is a common condition. Knowing more about the topic can help you prepare for the subject, whether you or a loved one has gone through the experience. Here, you’ll find miscarriage statistics and support to help you understand the experience and know what to expect.
Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before 12 weeks, known as an early miscarriage, or from 12 to 24 weeks, known as a late miscarriage, of gestation. Losses before 10 weeks of loss are typically considered sporadic losses – before a “clinical pregnancy” is officially documented by ultrasound or pathologic diagnosis. Recurrent pregnancy loss is defined by the loss of two or more clinical pregnancies.
Unfortunately, miscarriage is an experience that approximately 1 in 5 expecting mothers will face. For women who know they’re pregnant, about 10-15% of those pregnancies end in miscarriage. This is not including the miscarriages that take place before a clinical pregnancy is documented, in which case losses that occur before a missed period may range from 30-50%. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester, though 1-5% of pregnancies in the second trimester end in loss. Repeat miscarriages affect approximately 1% of women trying to conceive.
Some women experience signs and symptoms before a miscarriage actually occurs, while others do not. Some of the signs that a miscarriage may be about to start are vaginal spotting (which is usually dark brown and changing to pink or red), a decrease in breast tenderness or fullness, and the absence of fetal movement or heart sounds. Cramping and vaginal bleeding are signs that the miscarriage is occurring. If you are pregnant and experience these miscarriage symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
Miscarriage can occur when the uterine lining does not develop sufficiently, which can be attributed to abnormal hormone levels. The end result is the fertilized egg risks not having the best environment for implantation and nourishment. Women with thyroid and adrenal gland issues and women with diabetes and PCOS are typically at a higher risk for miscarriage due to hormonal imbalances.
Genetic problems resulting in an abnormality of the developing fetus can be a major cause of miscarriage. Either partner or even both may be genetically predisposed to passing on an abnormality to the fetus, which can then result in a miscarried pregnancy. One study reports that 50-60% of all miscarriages in the first three months of pregnancy are due to chromosomal abnormalities.
Structural problems of the uterus may cause miscarriage, typically by interfering with the implantation of the fertilized egg. Obstructions such as uterine fibroids and septums can prevent proper implantation by affecting the normal function of the uterine lining, thus affecting pregnancy loss. Another cause of structural issues is DES (synthetic estrogen) exposure, resulting in a T-shaped uterus that can also contribute to miscarriage.
Similar to structural issues with the uterus, an improperly functioning cervix can be the cause miscarriage. An “incompetent cervix” refers to when the cervical muscle is weakened and cannot remain closed as the developing fetus grows and reaches a certain weight. This puts pressure on the cervical opening and does not allow for the body to create a habitable environment for the proper growth of the fetus.
The environmental toxins you may be exposed to in the air around you can also result in fetal damage or miscarriage, especially if you experience regular exposure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Studies also indicate that the use of marijuana, tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol all can affect fetal development and result in miscarriage. Most doctors suggest that women avoid or limit their use during pregnancy.
Infections such as German measles (rubella), herpes simplex, ureaplasma, cytomegalovirus, and chlamydia can affect fetal development, and in some cases, result in miscarriage. In addition, certain bacteria live in the genital tracts of both men and women and could cause harm to a pregnancy. If an infection in a woman’s uterus involves this bacteria, an embryo cannot grow properly, thus resulting in a pregnancy loss.
Miscarriage can leave you and your partner with many intense feelings of loss and grief, no matter the length of the pregnancy. Allow yourself grace and understanding in this difficult time. It is natural and expected to feel grief for the loss of a child and a pregnancy. It is okay to feel angry and depressed. Talk to your partner and heal together. It is also important to recognize that grief shows up differently to every person and might require different approaches to support.
Friends and family are also great resources for support. Perhaps you know someone else who has gone through a miscarriage themselves, or maybe you just need a distraction or a shoulder to lean on. If you need to talk further, join a support group or a grief counselor. There is much comfort and refuge in others who are experiencing the same heartbreak. Be sure to practice self-care and get the support you need to get you through this difficult time.
There is no evidence that a miscarriage causes infertility. If you are having trouble conceiving after miscarrying, there may be an indicator that there is something more you need to know about your reproductive health. There is a large possibility that a woman who has experienced a miscarriage could experience another, most commonly due to an underlying health condition. Common causes of miscarriage are also responsible for difficulties when attempting to conceive.
If you are struggling with pregnancy and have faced miscarriage, speaking with a fertility specialist can help you find a solution to having a healthy pregnancy. Reach out to Red Rock Fertility Center to better understand your fertility health, find peace of mind, and start your journey toward growing your family.