Miscarriage is when a woman is pregnant and the baby dies within the womb within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is also referred to as early pregnancy loss and it usually happens within the first trimester, usually before the 12th week. Up to 15% of pregnancies often end in miscarriage. Sometimes, it happens even without the woman knowing that she is pregnant.
You might have also heard of repeat miscarriages. This type of pregnancy loss is recurrent, and your miscarriages can be called ‘repeat miscarriages’ when it has happened two or three times already, in a row. In most cases, the cause is unknown and the woman can still have a healthy an successful pregnancy despite the repeated miscarriages.
There is no exact set cause of miscarriages. However, there are factors that have been known to cause these. These includes:
1. Chromosomal Issues – a huge percentage of the total number of miscarriages is attributed to the wrong number of chromosomes in the fertilized egg. When this happens, it is pretty random – it’s not something parents can pass to their children. Chromosome problems also come in many forms. Some examples of these include blighted ovum, intrauterine fetal death (IUFD), molar pregnancy, and translocation. Translocation happens when some parts of a chromosome moves to another chromosome. This is a problem that can lead to repeated miscarriages. IUFD is a problem that can stem from a chromosomal issue which leads to the fetus dying inside the wound. In most cases, the fetus just stops developing and dies while being carried by the mother. There are cases when the mother carries the lifeless fetus inside the womb for weeks without knowing its status. Blighted ovum is when the embryo manages to implant itself in the uterus but stops developing. Molar pregnancy refers to pregnancies wherein the fertilized egg does not develop into a fetus but instead turns into an abnormal mass.
2. Uterine or cervical issues
Some of the problems that cause miscarriages are due to uterine and cervical issues. The can include septate uterus, Asherman syndrome, fibroids and cervical insufficiency. When a woman has a septate uterus, her uterus is divided by a band of tissues into two sections. This is a condition that some women are born with and surgery is usually done in order to repair the uterus before the woman should try to get pregnant. Otherwise, the pregnancy will just lead to miscarriage.
Fibroids can also cause miscarriages. Fibroids are scars or growths inside the uterus which are sometimes from previous surgeries. These growths and scars ideally should be removed before a woman should try to get pregnant, otherwise, these fibroids can hinder fetal growth and even blood supply, leading to a miscarriage.
Incompetent cervix is another anatomical cause of miscarriages. This occurs when early into the pregnancy, the cervix of the mother opens without pain or contractions. The solution for this is to add some stitches on the cervix to keep it closed until the mother is ready to give birth.
Infections also play a huge role in miscarriages. Common ones include sexually transmitted diseases. If infection is suspected, contact a health care provider immediately so that proper treatment will be carried out and a miscarriage can be prevented.
There are some factors that causes other women to be more at risk for miscarriages than others. These includes being older than 35, having previous miscarriages, use of drugs, alcohol, and smoking, chemical exposure, autoimmune disorders and other health conditions, obesity and hormonal problems. If a woman has diabetes, thyroid issues, and uterine trauma, these can also increase the risk for miscarriages. Consuming too much caffeine while pregnant can also lead to miscarriage.
If you are pregnant, you should stay alert and you need to watch out for signs and symptoms that could indicate danger for you and your unborn baby. The things to watch out for includes spotting or bleeding, cramps, severe pain. When you have these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will surely miscarry. When you have these signs and symptoms, call your health provider right away. Tests can be done to determine the status of your baby. If your baby is truly at risk, there are treatments and medications available that can be used to prevent the miscarriage from actually happening.
There are also treatments that need to be done after miscarriage or repeat miscarriages. One is called D&C, which stands for dilatation and curettage. This is done to clean up your uterus, and to make sure that there are no remaining tissue from the fetus that is left in the womb. If there are tissues left, these can cause irreversible damages and serious complications later on. The dilatation and curettage is done by dilating the cervix and removing remaining tissue in the womb using a curette.
Taking certain medications is also one way to let tissues pass from the body. This could be another option that your health care provider will present to you in case of a miscarriage.
If it is your first miscarriage and it happened in the first trimester, additional medical tests may not be necessary. After all, it’s usually difficult to ascertain what causes a miscarriage within this period. However, in cases of repeat miscarriages or if your miscarriage occurred during the second trimester, some tests may be recommended by your health care provider. These tests can include chromosome tests, blood tests, hormone tests, and physical examination of the uterus. Examinations may also include an ultrasound and a hysteroscopy. An x-ray of the uterus might also be necessary.
Recovery time can vary from person to person but in most cases, it could take a few weeks to a month before full recovery. Menstrual period can again begin within 4 to 6 weeks after the miscarriage. Pregnancy hormones also remain in the blood for up to 2 months. More than the physical aspect of it, miscarriages often have a bigger emotional impact. If you are the mother, you could experience depression as you go through the different stages of grief. Get as much support as possible. Tell your health care provider not just about the physical changes you’re experiencing but emotional changes too.
In time, when you are ready, you and your partner can decide to try to get pregnant again.