Probably one of the most popular series I have written over the past few years is the one on recurrent early pregnancy loss. There is not a week that goes by that I still don’t get inquiries related to that subject, most accompanied by the pain, frustration, sense of loss, and feelings of hopelessness for future fertility. There are several points I always remind readers and patients about whenever I have the opportunity to discuss their concerns: 1) In most cases, the tincture of time alone offers the answer to their prayers; 2) If specific reasons for their losses are found or suspected, these can often be addressed medically and/or surgically; 3) If specific reasons cannot be identified, there are reasonable approaches to ‘empiric therapy’; and, 4) If these approaches fail, the science of assisted reproductive technology (ART) has advanced to the point that it can often overcome most obstacles that stand in the way of fertility.
The other points I always mention in response to the questions of “Why did this happen to me?”, “What did I do wrong to cause this?”, “What can I do to assure that it never happens to me again?, particularly to couples who have had their first or second miscarriage, or a sporadic miscarriage after successful pregnancies, are the following: 1) Miscarriages occur in 15-20% of all conceptions; 2) The MOST COMMON cause of early pregnancy losses are chromosomal abnormalities that occur by chance (except in the case of parental chromosomal rearrangements) and are not under any controllable influences; 3) It is unlikely that anything was “done” to cause the loss, although if there are such potential factors identified, the loss may provide an incentive to modify lifestyle prior to another pregnancy attempt to minimize their risks.
Recently, I received the query below from a woman who has had early pregnancy losses related to documented chromosomal abnormalities. Despite the other problems that have been identified which might contribute to reduced fertility in her case, these probably had no influence on her babies’ chromosomal abnormalities. But, they do give us the opportunity to briefly discuss the well-known observations that certain seemingly “unusual” chromosomal abnormalities (“unusual” in that they rarely or never result in a live born baby) actually contribute to a relatively high percentage of early pregnancy losses. Read more »