Multiple Miscarriages - A Sign of Infertility
Miscarriage is never easy, no matter what stage of pregnancy you are in - losing a baby is tough. If you've been trying to conceive for a while, the loss is even more poignant, and disappointing. While it can be very distressing, having to go through two, three or more miscarriages can take a massive toll on a couple's mental health and relationship. Suffering multiple miscarriages can be an indication that there's a fertility issue that needs to be addressed before a successful pregnancy can happen.
Miscarriage is Not Uncommon - If It is Only Once or Twice
It is not uncommon nor is it particularly a cause for worry (from a medical point of view) when a woman experiences one miscarriage. About 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies culminate in a spontaneous abortion - or miscarriage, with some authorities saying that up to 25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Of these miscarriages, fully 75 percent occur within the first trimester of pregnancy (the first 12 weeks). With the new detection methods for pregnancy, it has been determined that women who miss a period only to have it arrive ten days to two weeks late have, in fact, experienced a very early onset miscarriage. A woman's risk of miscarriage diminishes after the first loss however, if there are more than two losses, the risk factor goes from 20 to 25 percent to more than 40 percent and rises again with each subsequent pregnancy loss.
What Causes Miscarriage?
The commonly agreed upon reason for early pregnancy loss and the main cause for miscarriage in the first trimester is due to a chromosomal abnormality, usually a one-off situation that won't affect future pregnancies. The estimates range from 50 to 60 percent for miscarriages due to chromosomal abnormalities in the first trimester but this is not the only reason for miscarriage. There are many other reasons for pregnancy loss, many of them causing multiple miscarriages if left untreated.
The Hormone Factor
In order for a successful pregnancy to occur, hormone levels have to be at a normal level. When hormone levels are out of sync myriad situations can occur. Implantation may be undermined due to improper development of the endometrial lining, which makes sustaining a pregnancy impossible. Thyroid or adrenal gland problems can cause miscarriage and women with diabetes who have problems regulating their hormones often experience miscarriages if their hormone levels are not properly managed.
Uterine Issues and STDs
Uterine factors, such as a divided uterus or a uterus that is misshapen can be the cause of a miscarriage. It is not impossible to sustain a pregnancy with a uterine problem, but it can be a serious challenge. STDs, as has been proven time and again, have a major impact upon fertility and the ability to carry a baby to term. Herpes, Chlamydia and German measles can all challenge the reproductive system. If these infections are not treated properly and early they can interfere with fetal development and cause miscarriage.
Environmental toxin exposure is perhaps one of the most insidious causes of miscarriage. Regular exposure to harsh chemicals has been shown to cause miscarriage in women. Arsenic, benzene, ethylene, oxide, lead and formaldehyde are all dangerous to pregnant women. However, there are other environmental toxins that are less overt but just as dangerous. Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and marijuana have been proven to affect fetal development. They are also implicated in miscarriage, and since you have control over these toxins, it behooves you to stay far away from them if you want to become pregnant or if you are pregnant already.
Immunological and Other Causes
In some cases immunological problems, the abnormal function of the immune system, can cause miscarriages. Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS) is the issue most associated with miscarriage, causing blood clots to form and inhibit proper fetal development. In other situations, like Rh-negative blood type, the body views the baby as a foreign invader and takes steps to eliminate it.
There are other possible links to multiple miscarriages, such as age factor (women over 35), exposure to DES (diethylstilbestrol) and weak cervix. With a weak cervix it is almost impossible for a woman to carry a baby past the second trimester because the weight of the growing baby forces the cervix to open, causing preterm labor and usually the loss of the baby.