Causes Of Miscarriage - When Knowing Is Important
Causes of miscarriage may involve one or a combination of several possible factors. You, like myself, may have endured a spontaneous miscarriage and now feel you need to know what happened.
Or, you may be planning a pregnancy and want to know all you can to lower the chances of miscarriage. Educating yourself about these causes of miscarriage can give you direction on how to be in optimum health. For example, know in advance what the connection is between progesterone and miscarriage.
I had carried two healthy, fabulous, so deeply loved, oops! babies to term. Like my doctor said, "This time was the same combination as my two successful pregnancies - same man and woman". So what happened?
After starting to recover physically I scoured my resources for information. I felt like I really needed to know what happened inside my body to cause this grave injustice. I found some sobering statistics and discovered several different causes of miscarriage.
1) One of the causes of miscarriage is hormonal imbalance.
Several hormones are given attention in relation with causing miscarriage. Progesterone, estrogen and cortisol are said to be causes or at least factors.
Every month after ovulation your progesterone levels rise and then fall just before your period. When pregnant, the ovaries need to keep those progesterone levels elevated in order to sustain the pregnancy - progesterone helps maintain the uterine lining. After around the tenth week of pregnancy, the placenta takes over in producing the progesterone production.
Some say low progesterone causes miscarriage. Many though, say low progesterone is just a sign of an impending miscarriage that would have happened anyway. They say the body stops producing this hormone because it knows the pregnancy won't continue.
Many ladies, take progesterone supplements, hoping it will help prevent miscarriage in case pregnancy occurs. The viability of these treatments remains uncertain as a result of studies, although, many women and doctors say they are effective. Many ladies feel, "It can't hurt to try".
The only scenario where taking progesterone is a sure solution is if there is a luteal phase defect. This occurs when the corpus luteum, which grows with the egg at ovulation, doesn't produce the necessary hormones to sustain a pregnancy.
Whether this is a problem or not can be diagnosed by two biopsies. After determining this is the case, progesterone must be started 48 hours after ovulation to work.
An untreated thyroid condition will wreak havoc with hormones. This will cause miscarriage.
Studies have shown that cortisol, a hormone that elevates during times of stress, may cross the placenta and interfere with the development of the embryo in early stages of pregnancy.
One study showed elevated cortisol levels were associated with lower progesterone levels. This shows how important it is not to let stress get out of hand during pregnancy - easier said than done!
Another hormone that can cause miscarriage in pregnancy is estrogen.
Science Daily reports on a study, conducted by Dr. Eugene D. Albrecht, PhD, and Gerald J. Pepe, PhD., addressing the importance of estrogen. "Our findings indicate that estrogen plays a critically important physiological role in the maintenance of pregnancy and in fetal viability," Albrecht says.
"Albrecht and Pepe, who have been working for more than two decades to piece together the estrogen-in-pregnancy puzzle, previously showed that estrogen plays at least two vital roles in what they call "the fetal-placental dialogue that goes on during primate pregnancy:" It regulates the production of another essential hormone, progesterone, and promotes normal development, maturation and function of the placenta and fetal adrenal glands."
In reading all of this hormone information, I was struck by how critical it is have the right balance of all these hormones. Too much estrogen and high cortisol levels are dangerous to your progesterone levels.
2) Another one of the causes of miscarriage is chromosomal defects.
Chromosomal abnormalities are said to be responsible for about 50% of all miscarriages. Not enough chromosomes, or too many, will often result in a pregnancy that your body's immune system will end because it somehow knows something was wrong.
I didn't know that us women are born with all the eggs we will ever have. As we get older, our eggs get older also and are more vulnerable to abnormalities. For this reason, women over 35 are especially prone to miscarrying.
Recent research shows that a man's age, also, may have an effect on his sperm. And, either the egg or sperm may be abnormal due to exposure to certain chemicals or toxins. Additionally, there may be chromosomal abnormalities if something goes wrong with the cell division process after the sperm and egg have joined.
3) A physical problem with the uterus or cervix may be another of the causes of miscarriage.
Some women have an irregularly shaped uterus that may not be able to expand to accomodate the growing baby. Or, a weak cervix may open and let the baby out. Both of these causes of early labor resulting in miscarriage happen most often between 12 and 24 weeks into pregnancy.
4) Immune disorders
The immune system is designed to recognise and attack foreign substances within the body. Normally, the mother's body protects the "foreign" fetus from attack by her own antibodies, although it seems that the blood of some women does not have this protection. This could result in repeated miscarriages.
Blood clotting disorders are believed to be caused by elevated levels of certain antibodies and are a factor in 15% of all recurrent miscarriages. Blood clotting disorders contribute to poor blood flow in the placenta which prevents adequate oxygen and nutrition for the baby to survive. I've read over and over again that, many women take baby aspirin to at least partly address this problem in early pregnancy.
I discovered, in my research, that even though miscarriages are reported to occur in about 20% of all pregnancies, the actual number may be closer to 40% or even 50%. This is due to a high number of miscarriages occuring within the first couple of weeks when a woman may not even realize she is pregnant. You may have what you assume to be just a heavier-than-normal-period, and yet be miscarrying.
I also learned that of all women that miscarry, 20% have recurring miscarriages. These statistics gave me some reassurance that it happens to lots, and lots of women - I wasn't so strange after all.
In the end, many women never really find out what the cause of their miscarriage was. I wonder if mine was chromosomal - I'm 41, or hormonal - I know my hormones are way off balance.
Nutrition, age, health and even state of mind affect a woman's chances of miscarriage. I now know, stress that's "over the top" is a risk and there is a strong connection between progesterone and miscarriage.
In light of the many risks and possible causes of miscarriage, I now appreciate more than ever, there are a lot of variables involved in successfully growing a baby. Some things can't be changed, but, educating yourself about what causes miscarriage, can give you answers and maybe even direction to address a deficiency.
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