Miscarriages are common for women to experience, although a somewhat taboo topic to discuss in many circles. Not talking about it makes miscarriages seems much more rare than it actually is.
A miscarriage, medically termed "spontaneous abortion" is the sudden end of pregnancy and loss of a fetus that occurs before the 20th week of gestation. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. When you include pregnancies that were undetected, or mistaken for a late period, one in three pregnancies end in miscarriage.
But the actual number is likely higher because all miscarriages aren't counted. Bottom line, miscarriages are common. Knowing just how common miscarriage is can shift your mindset from “what’s wrong with me?” to “this is something that happens sometimes.”
Here are 15 common causes of miscarriages...
1. NUTRIENT DEFICIENCES
Many nutrients are essential to maintain healthy hormone levels for a full term pregnancy: quality protein, healthy fats, vitamin A, vitamin D, several B vitamins, folate, selenium, iron iodine to name a few. Deficiencies in essential nutrients affects fetus development.
2. CHROMOSOMAL ABNORMALITIES
The most common reason that an embryo (<10 weeks) or fetus doesn’t survive is that it is not viable because of genetic abnormalities. This means that the fetus is developing with a genetic issue that would make it is unable to survive outside the womb or further along in pregnancy.
Certain genes in a developing baby may be missing or causing abnormal growth of the baby or placenta. The baby also may have the wrong number of chromosomes. This results in miscarriage because of the natural intelligence of mother's body and fetus. The mother’s body or the fetus itself recognizes it is unable to survive and ends the pregnancy.
3. BLIGHTED OVUM
A blighted ovum is also called anembryonic pregnancy. This means that there is no embryo, only a sac, and a placenta. This condition shows up as a positive pregnancy test because pregnancy hormones are still being created. Often, women with a blighted ovum will exhibit symptoms of pregnancy as well. They may feel breast tenderness, have nausea and become bloated.
4. MOLAR PREGNANCY
Molar pregnancy is a condition that causes miscarriage. There are two kinds of molar pregnancy: Complete molar pregnancy and incomplete or partial molar pregancy.
A complete molar pregancy occurs because the chromosomes from the mother are missing and both sets of chromosomes are from the father. A incomplete or partial molar pregancy occurs when the mother’s chromosomes are present, but two sets of chromosomes from the father are, too.
5. ILLNESS OR INFECTION
If a mother has an illness or infection, it can cause her to lose her pregnancy. Illnesses like the Zika virus, measles, or sexually transmitted infections can prevent a baby from developing to full term.
6. Problems with Sperm
While traditional narratives typically focus on the mother’s role in miscarriage and infertility, the quality of the father’s sperm can have an impact on miscarriage. In a recent study, researchers found a link between the quality of a man’s sperm and the incidence of recurrent miscarriage in their partner.
7. Autoimmune Disease
Sometimes, women who suffer from autoimmune diseases are at risk for miscarriage. While many women with autoimmune disease have healthy babies, sometimes it can be a contributing factor to miscarriage.
Some of the autoimmune conditions that researchers have linked to miscarriage include:
- Thyroid disease
- Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are at 3 times higher risk for miscarriage. Researchers believe that elevated levels of insulin and inflammation in women with PCOS may cause this unfortunate phenomenon. Many women with PCOS can and do have full-term pregnancies. Please do not despair if you are trying to get pregnant with PCOS, with the appropriate lifestyle changes and support anything is possible!
9. Luteal Phase Defect
Luteal phase defect occurs when the lining of the uterus doesn’t develop properly. It is characterized by low levels of progesterone. Your doctor may recommend progesterone treatment if you experience miscarriage and have a luteal phase defect.
10. Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg begins to develop outside of the womb. Typically, this occurs in one of the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancy is considered a life-threatening emergency, and requires immediate medical attention. If the pregnancy isn’t miscarried, the egg continues to grow outside of the womb and is very serious for the mother. Ectopic pregnancy can be accompanied by abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding.
11. UTERINE ABNORMALITIES
Some women are born with a uterus that is divided into sections by muscles. This condition is called a septate uterus. Unfortunately, this condition often remains undiagnosed until a woman experiences a loss of pregnancy. Once the septate uterus is discovered, surgery can be performed to correct it in most cases.
Other uterine issues such as endometriosis and Asherman syndrome – which causes scar tissue to form in the uterus – can also lead to a higher incidence of miscarriage. Endometriosis has been linked to an 80% increased chance of miscarriage.
12. CERVICAL INCOMPETENCE
When the cervix dilates early in pregnancy (it’s not supposed to open until you give birth) miscarriage can occur. This is called cervical incompetence or cervical insufficiency. Sometimes, the cervix can be stitched closed in a procedure called a cerclage to prevent miscarriage if cervical incompetence is discovered before a miscarriage occurs.
13. PLACENTA DIFFUCULTIES
When the placenta does not develop properly, miscarriage can result. The placenta is the organ that develops during pregnancy to sustain the baby’s growth, blood and nutrient supply. The placenta provides nutrients to the baby and removes waste from the baby through the umbilical cord. It helps to pass on the necessary antibodies to the baby from the mother and emits the hormones that help keep a pregnancy viable. If the placenta doesn’t grow properly or grow large enough to do its job, miscarriage can result.
14. ENVIRONMETAL TOXINS
Smoking, alcohol, heavy metals, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, solvents, pesticides, pollution, and radiation have all been linked to miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and birth defects. If a mother is exposed to high levels of any of these chemicals, loss of pregnancy may result.
Getting a good handle on your blood sugar levels before trying to become pregnant if you have diabetes is important. High blood sugar levels early in pregnancy have been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage. Women with diabetes often have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies, but they do need to plan for extra complications that pregnancy can bring to a woman’s body.
Tips for Miscarriage Prevention
Not all miscarriages can be prevented, and a miscarriage does not indicate you did anything wrong. In fact, you can do everything right and a miscarriage may still occur due to issues with the embryo.
- Meet with your trusted health provider to ensure you're getting proper prenatal care.
- Take a quality prenatal multivitamin prior to conceiving and during pregnancy to support you and a growing fetus. I always recommend herbal prenatals.
- Communicate with your provider and seek medical care if you have any concerns throughout your pregnancy.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drug use while pregnant.
- Avoid infection and food borne illness. Ensure meals are properly prepared.
- Maintain healthy blood sugar levels by eating a nutrient dense diet with plenty of quality protein and vegetables. You can contact me for nutrition support.
- Limit caffeine, whether coffee or tea, to no more than 200 milligrams daily.