Miscarriage is heartbreaking. When you miscarry a pregnancy, you lose not only your baby but all of the dreams and plans you created when you found out you were pregnant. Going by the book, a miscarriage is defined as a pregnancy that ends within the first 20 weeks. Most miscarriages happen within the first trimester and once a pregnancy reaches the 12-week mark, the risk of miscarriage falls to just 2%.
Everyone experiences miscarriage or pregnancy loss differently. Sometimes women will experience cramping and heavy bleeding, but for some women there are no symptoms and the foetus dies but stays in the uterus. This is known as a missed or silent miscarriage and women are usually given the choice of having a surgical procedure, using medication or waiting for nature to take its course and for the foetus to be passed from the uterus.
We know hearing the words; “but miscarriage is quite common” don’t help you feel any better. It’s a sad fact that approximately 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Some studies suggest that the actual rate of early pregnancy losses could be as high as between 60-75% of conceptions – with many of the losses happening before a woman realises she is pregnant.
When planning your family, it’s also worth keeping in mind that the miscarriage rate does increase as women get older. Read more about age and fertility.
The number one thing to remember when it comes to miscarriage is that in almost 100% of cases it is not something you did. There is also almost always nothing that could have been done to prevent a pregnancy being lost if that’s what the body has decided is going to happen.
Frustratingly for the people involved, the vast majority of miscarriages are unexplained, partly because they are not usually investigated until a woman has two or three in a row. A random genetic abnormality is the most common cause of miscarriage.
About nine out of 10 genetically abnormal pregnancies will not survive past the first trimester.
Here’s the science behind what causes a pregnancy to be genetically abnormal:
In normal human cells there are 46 chromosomes, which contain DNA and genes. When cells have the wrong number of chromosomes, the error is known as aneuploidy. The most widely known example aneuploidy is Down syndrome which is the result of the foetus having three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two.
If a woman has two or more miscarriages in a row, we highly recommend speaking with a Fertility Specialist so tests can be done to see if there is an underlying cause.
More than half of the time these investigations don’t find any explanation for the miscarriages – and this is good news, as it means a healthy pregnancy is likely to be achieved in the future without medical intervention. Knowing this, can help to reduce anxiety around being able to achieve a healthy pregnancy. Hear Amie and James share their journey.
Miscarriage support from The Pink Elephants
At Genea, we’re passionate about opening up the conversation around early pregnancy loss and making sure women and their partners get the support they need. So, in 2017 we formed a partnership with The Pink Elephants Support Network, a not-for-profit charity created to support women through miscarriage, pregnancy loss and beyond. This amazing organisation supports women through their grief, nurtures them as they heal and empowers them as they move into the future.
They have numerous free resources available on their website including useful information about miscarriage stages, support brochures and downloadable resources. You can also find The Pink Elephants Support Network on Facebook and Instagram.
Access resources Visit website
As random chromosome problems are thought to be the cause of the majority of miscarriages, Genea offers GeneSure™
, a leading embryo screening technique (called Preimplantation Genetic Screening or PGS) that allows scientists to screen an embryo in the lab as part of the IVF process and to ensure it has the correct number and sequence of chromosomes in the DNA. This screening process all happens before the embryo is transferred back to the uterus so we can ensure that only healthy embryos are transferred.
For women over 38, GeneSure™ has been shown to double the live birth rate and halve the miscarriage rate per embryo transfer, making it a worthwhile option for couples experiencing recurrent miscarriage**