Repeated Miscarriage

After repeated miscarriages, your doctor may test for an underlying cause.

Birthing centre.
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Miscarriage occurs in 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies, usually within the first three months. Some women will experience multiple miscarriages, and after the third one, medical professionals refer to the situation as repeated miscarriage or habitual abortion.

Once you've suffered from multiple miscarriages, you might be offered special tests to try and help determine if there's an underlying cause.

As you try to find answers your doctors may consider the following causes.


This is one of the most common causes of miscarriage. It may be due to problems with the number of chromosomes in a fetus, the structure of the chromosome, or even the genetic material that they carry. Random, chance events are the usual cause of genetic problems. However there are times when some genes are repeatedly passed on which can contribute to multiple pregnancy losses. You and your partner should be tested by a genetics specialist if you are repeatedly passing on chromosomal problems.

Uterine Anomalies

There are many varieties of uterine anomalies, some of which a woman may have had since birth, but only discover during pregnancy. Fibroids, or growths in the uterus, which may have no effect on conception or pregnancy, can cause problems at other times. The good news is that the majority of uterine anomalies can be dealt with prior to conception through surgery, thus increasing your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Hormone Imbalance

A hormonal imbalance occurs when there is not enough progesterone to sustain a pregnancy. This usually happens during the luteal phase of a woman’s cycle, and is thus referred to as a luteal phase defect. Treatment is usually given in the form of hormones prior to the luteal phase to increase the progesterone or in the form of progesterone supplementation.

Immunization Problems

Sometimes your body will see the fetus as a foreign object and attack it rather than accept it. When this happens a miscarriage ensues. There are certain blood tests, which can help determine if this is your problem and there may be medications to help you maintain a pregnancy. It can also be caused by an immune difference between the mother and father.

Maternal Illness

Generally a healthy mother, even with a history of chronic illness can have a successful pregnancy. Usually the key to this pregnancy will be diagnosis and control of the underlying factors. Some will have no effect on the pregnancy, while others require monitoring. Diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease and various infections are all conditions that can complicate pregnancy and lead to miscarriage.

Exposure to certain chemicals, drugs and X-rays have the potential to cause repeated miscarriage. Some of these factors are work related, while others may be related to your life style.

Factors like drinking, smoking (first and second hand) do have an impact on pregnancy, for both partners.

Diagnosis & Future Pregnancy

This can be the difficult part of the process. Sometimes no answer is ever found. However, the process is quite involved. In addition to complete medical history for both you and your partner, you will have a complete physical exam as well. This is likely to include many tests, such as:

  • Blood work (hormones, antibodies, disease)
  • Genetic Counseling and potential testing (You and your partner)
  • Testing for infection in the reproductive organs
  • Ultrasound to look for structural problems of the uterus
  • Biopsy of the uterine lining
  • X-rays of the reproductive tract (hysterosalpingogram)
  • Hysteroscopy (Minor surgery to visualize the reproductive organs through the vagina)
  • Laparoscopy (Minor surgery to visualize the reproductive organs through the abdomen)
  • Testing of any genetic material from previous miscarriages, if available

When to get tested will depend on your feelings and those of the practitioner you are using. Generally having one miscarriage is not a reason to go for testing unless something out of the ordinary is expected. However, it is hard to realize that sometimes there is nothing we can do to prevent the loss of a pregnancy.

Future Pregnancy

The good news is that even after more than one miscarriage your chance of having a healthy pregnancy is still good. With testing and possibly treatment you and your practitioner can hopefully bring down the risks of a future loss. What type of treatment will be necessary will depend on the cause or causes determined. Make sure you talk to your practitioner about what a future pregnancy will be like, what type of special tests or monitoring you might require.

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