Whether you call it miscarriage, pregnancy loss or spontaneous abortion, they all pertain to the natural termination of a fetus within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Any pregnancy cessation transpiring beyond that stretch is referred to as pre-term delivery.
Miscarriages are fairly common, with many pregnancy losses occurring before impregnation is even realized. And a substantial number of spontaneous abortions occur because of abnormal fetal development, i.e. chromosome issue, blighted ovum. Typically these errors occur by chance and have nothing to do with the parents.
Occasionally, a health condition of the woman can cause a miscarriage, such as:
- uncontrolled diabetes
- collagen vascular disease ~ lupus
- inappropriate immune response to sperm & semen
- autoimmune disease ~ antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
- reproductive organ issues ~ abnormal uterus anatomy, fibroids
- infection ~ listeria, toxoplasma gondii, parvovirus B19, rubella, herpes simplex, cytomegalovirus
- hormonal problems ~ Cushing’s syndrome, thyroid disease (hypothyroidism), polycystic ovary syndrome
Some other causes or increase your risk of a spontaneous abortion are:
- over age 35
- previous pregnancy loss
- smoking, alcohol, illicit drug use
- invasive prenatal tests ~ chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis
- toxin exposure ~ arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, benzene, ethylene oxide
Although in the vast majority of pregnancy loss cases there’s no realistic mode of prevention, miscarriages that are caused by your health condition and environmental exposures might be preventable. Some miscarriage prevention measures include:
- don’t consume illicit drugs, alcohol, excessive caffeine
- receive early, comprehensive prenatal care & eat a balanced diet
- treat any chronic health conditions, genital infections before becoming pregnant
- avoid certain environmental hazards ~ x-rays, infectious diseases, poisons, cigarette smoke
Symptoms you may experience that indicate a spontaneous abortion is a possibility are:
- vaginal bleeding
- lower back, abdominal pain, cramping
- vaginal discharge containing fluid, tissue, clotted material
Don’t panic if you only have symptoms of vaginal spotting or bleeding, as this is fairly common during early pregnancy.
These symptoms can indicate a serious infection that requires immediate health care attention and antibiotics.