The most common type of pregnancy loss is miscarriage. The clinical definition of miscarriage is a sudden loss of pregnancy between the time of conception until 20 weeks of gestation. Stillbirth is the second most common, which happens if the fetus dies after 20 weeks of gestation. The majority of miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy. While every woman is different, it’s important to understand the causes behind these unfortunate occurrences.
Signs of a Possible Miscarriage
The first sign of miscarriage is bleeding from the vagina. There may be mild cramping, blood clots, or placental tissue. Spotting blood does not mean a woman is having a miscarriage, but a steady flow of vaginal blood that does not resemble regular menstrual blood is often indicative of a miscarriage. Although slight bleeding during the first 10 weeks is common, any type of bleeding should be checked out immediately.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Miscarriage?
Ultrasound exams are performed on women having signs of a miscarriage. Images can show if the woman is still pregnant or if she has miscarried the fetus. When miscarriages occur at the end of the trimester, it may be possible to determine if there is a fetal heartbeat. Pelvic exams and complete blood count tests may be necessary to determine how much blood has been lost or if the woman has an undetected infection requiring antibiotics.
5 Common Causes of Miscarriage
1. Genetic Problems
If a fetus is suffering from a genetic disorder that is preventing it from developing normally in the womb, the mother’s body will “recognize” the problem and miscarry the fetus. In most cases, genetic errors associated with a miscarriage do not correlate with genetic issues affecting the mother.
2. A Woman’s Age
Women over 35 have a higher risk of miscarrying than younger women. In addition to increasing imbalances among pregnancy hormones, older women have higher incidences of producing eggs with abnormal numbers of chromosomes.
3. Cigarette Smoking, Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Drug Abuse
Indulging in one or more of these unhealthy lifestyle activities dramatically increases the risk of miscarriage in both young and older women.
4. History of Miscarriage
The more miscarriages a woman has, the more likely she will experience another miscarriage. Repeated miscarriages usually indicate anatomical abnormalities involving the uterus or problems with pregnancy hormone imbalances. If a woman is obese and has two or more miscarriages, she may be unable to have a full-term pregnancy until she loses weight.
Some STDs and pelvic infections remain asymptomatic until in an advanced stage. Your doctor may recommend certain blood tests for infections if you have a miscarriage and an infection is suspected of causing the miscarriage.
How Long After a Miscarriage Can You Try to Get Pregnant?
If no health problems linger after a miscarriage, most women begin having normal menstrual periods within four to six weeks following a miscarriage. The majority of women who have one miscarriage go on to have a full-term pregnancy as long as the reason for the miscarriage isn’t a permanent or chronic condition.
Women cope with miscarriage differently. Some may try again right away to get pregnant while others need some time to recover from feelings of sadness and loss. The decision to attempt pregnancy again after a miscarriage should be left entirely up to the woman, her partner and what her doctor recommends.
Is Miscarriage Preventable?
In some cases, yes. If you smoked, drank alcohol every day, or took excessive amounts of prescription or over-the-counter drugs during your last pregnancy and miscarried, you may have prevented this miscarriage by engaging in healthier lifestyle practices. However, miscarriages happen to even the healthiest women for unknown or other reasons. Reducing the risk of miscarriage involves avoiding substances toxic to you and your baby, maintaining an acceptable healthy weight, keeping all appointments with your doctor, and remaining aware of what your body may be telling you regarding your pregnancy.
If you have experienced one or more miscarriages, Viera Fertility Clinic in Melbourne offers diagnostic services to help you learn why you are having miscarriages. We also provide fertility treatments to restore balance to pregnancy hormones that may be causing miscarriage. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.