Some women suffer from recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), which is defined as the loss of two or more pregnancies. A pregnancy loss occurs when a pregnancy ends before a fetus reaches viability. Families often grieve these losses deeply and women may worry that they did something to cause the losses. Going to a dedicated fertility clinic offers the opportunity for couples to have specialist investigations, support and, if possible, treatment.
The first clinic visit
At the first clinic visit, a clinician will review the patient’s history, answer questions, propose a plan to investigate and, perhaps, suggest treatment. It is an opportunity for a couple to give information about previous pregnancies and any investigations already conducted. Many women with RPL already have information from a number of sources and some re-education may be necessary.
IVF Authority provides information that can help women to find a fertility clinic that will investigate what’s causing the RPL. More often than not, investigations can turn up a problem that it’s possible to address through prescription medication or fertility treatment. Sometimes even a minor surgical procedure may be able to sort out a problem.
Possible causes and solutions
Uterus problems: Recurrent pregnancy loss usually happens for one of four reasons. If the uterus is abnormally shaped or it has polyps, scar tissue or fibroids, this can lead to pregnancy loss. Conducting a hysteroscopy can reveal such an issue which often merely requires a minor operation to fix. Correcting the shape of the uterus can often lower miscarriage chances.
Genetic problems: Genetic testing can reveal that a woman or her partner carries a chromosomal mutation that passes down to the baby. Genetic testing can be done through a blood test. If the results show that a chromosomal issue is causing pregnancy loss, in-vitro fertilization is a treatment option. During IVF, the eggs and sperm are mixed outside of the body in the laboratory. The embryos can be tested so as to return a chromosomally sound embryo into the woman’s body.
Hormonal problems: Testing the woman’s hormones could reveal certain hormonal imbalances which affect her ability to have a long-term pregnancy. It is possible to treat hormonal imbalances and thyroid diseases with prescription medications. Someone with diabetes may be referred to a specialist to help manage the disease during pregnancy.
Clotting disorders: Some clotting disorders are genetic and others are acquired but it is possible to find them through conducting a series of blood tests. Most clotting disorders can be treated by taking blood thinners during pregnancy.
Risk factors and lifestyle choices
It is human nature for women to blame themselves for pregnancy loss but in many cases, there is a medical reason for the loss that has nothing to do with lifestyle factors. In general, whatever is healthy for a woman improves her chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Obviously, the risk of pregnancy loss can increase greatly over the age of 40. Couples need to understand that smoking or excessive alcohol consumption could have a negative impact on the chances of a live birth. They also need to know that maternal obesity or being significantly underweight could be associated with obstetric complications and have a negative impact not only on general health but the chances of a live birth.
There is no proof that stress, anxiety or depression cause RPL but they often go along with it. Psychological counseling and support can help couples to cope with the emotional pain and grief that accompany miscarriage. This could help them to be in a better state of mind and create a healthy environment for a pregnancy.