Why do miscarriages occur?

When a woman experiences a miscarriage, there are many feelings of loss and sadness, but there is also a need to know why. What’s important for women and their partners to know is that you are not to blame for miscarriage. Nearly 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, regardless of the woman’s age, and in some cases before she even realizes she is pregnant. Sadly, miscarriage is a more common occurrence than people think, and one that is often difficult to understand.

Common causes of miscarriage

In about 50 percent of miscarriage cases, a cause can be determined. The cause usually falls into two categories:
  • Genetic abnormalities: Genetic abnormalities represent the most common cause of miscarriage. Sometimes the genetic syndrome is inherited from the parents, which we can test for through preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), and sometimes it occurs naturally within the embryo itself while it’s developing.
  • Uterine abnormalities: In these cases, there may be structural issues with the uterus, fibroids, endocrine issues, or immunological issues that can make a woman predisposed to miscarriage.

In either case, your physician will work with you to treat these diagnoses in order to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

For the other 50 percent of miscarriages, there is not an explanation unfortunately. This can understandably be very frustrating, but it should also be reassuring because it tells you that there isn’t anything majorly wrong, and that down the line you will likely be able to deliver a healthy baby.

Common myths

While potential miscarriage causes were mentioned earlier, the internet is filled with information that is often incorrect regarding miscarriage. Far too many people believe that the following items led to their miscarriage:

  • Too much stress
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • History of sexually transmitted disease
  • Having used IUDs for birth control in the past
  • Engaging in intercourse while pregnant

It is important to note that none of the above reasons cause miscarriage.

Preventing future miscarriage

For women that have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss—two or more consecutive miscarriages—there is now an option to help prevent future loss. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)—in which cells from the embryos are biopsied—can determine if chromosomal abnormalities are present. If embryos have chromosomal abnormalities, they will not be transferred back to the female partner. PGD has been proven to reduce the risk of miscarriage in women.

Finding Support

It is important that people who experience miscarriage get emotional support, whether it is from family, friends, or professional counselors or groups. This helps to counteract the feelings of isolation that come from pregnancy loss. The more you talk to people, the more you will realize that many others have been in the same situation and that you are not alone.