Seven Most Common Miscarriage Causes
Early pregnancy loss is so common that many obstetricians consider these miscarriages a normal part of reproduction. That doesn’t make the loss any easier. Learn about the seven most common miscarriage causes, and how to increase your chances for a healthy pregnancy.
Miscarriage Cause: Bacterial Infections
Why They Cause Miscarriage
Many micro-organisms live harmlessly—even helpfully—in the male and female reproductive tracts. But certain bacteria can cause problems, including an increased risk of miscarriage. Two in particular—mycoplasma hominis and ureaplasma urealyticum—live in the genital tracts of healthy men and women, but can raise the risk of miscarriage. In women, infection with these bacteria can inflame the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), making it impossible for an embryo to develop. “There are no symptoms, however, so the only way you know if you or your partner is carrying the organism is to be tested,” says Dr. Scher.
What You Can Do
These infections can usually be easily treated with antibiotics.
Miscarriage Cause: Lifestyle (Cigarettes, Alcohol, Drugs, Environmental Toxins)
Why They Lead to Miscarriage
“Nicotine crosses the placenta and interferes with blood supply and fetal growth,” says Dr. Scher. Smokers have twice the rate of miscarriage as nonsmokers. Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day is also associated with miscarriage, he says, and it goes without saying—but he says it anyway—that using recreational drugs when you’re attempting to get pregnant (or during pregnancy) is foolish. Finally, women who work in certain environments—including farms, operating rooms, dental offices and hospital laboratories—have a higher rate of miscarriage for unknown reasons.
What You Can Do
“ Give up all deleterious habits before you try to become pregnant,” says Dr. Lerner, “and you increase your odds of enjoying a successful pregnancy.” If you’re worried that your workplace may not be healthy for you, tell your doctor about your concerns, and check with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov.
Signs of a Miscarriage
In early pregnancy, spotting is normal, but if you experience menstrual-like cramps or severe abdominal pain and bleeding, you may be experiencing a miscarriage and should call your health care provider. She may decide to do an exam to check your cervix; if it’s dilated, a miscarriage is likely. If you have had an early miscarriage, chances are you won’t require any medical treatment, but in some cases you’ll need a procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove the embryonic tissue.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of Conceive Magazine.