One in four women in Australia have had a miscarriage but for women who have had recurrent miscarriages a fertility evaluation is important. Several procedures can help women achieve a successful pregnancy despite previous miscarriages.
Navigating the emotional rollercoaster of a previous miscarriage
Miscarriage is one of the most emotionally painful processes for any woman to go through, but just how does a previous miscarriage affect your ability to have a successful pregnancy? I understand the emotional rollercoaster any woman, or indeed couple, goes through after a miscarriage.
You’re afraid it will happen again or that you just won’t be able to fall pregnant. While a previous miscarriage will inevitably create anxieties, it might help you to know that between 20% and 25% of women have had a miscarriage at some point. If you have had more than one previous miscarriages, however, the next step on your reproductive journey should to assess your risk factors and work with a fertility expert on ways to manage these risks.
Knowing the risk factors after a previous miscarriage
The primary cause of miscarriages is abnormal chromosomes in the foetus, a risk factor that rises with the age of the woman. However, no good fertility specialist would ever assume the issues lie with the woman. Therefore, where a woman has experienced recurrent miscarriages, it’s important to review the chromosomes of both the woman and the man.
Anatomical abnormalities, such as uterine fibroids, are also a major cause of miscarriage, but these are surgically treatable, which is why it’s important to see a fertility expert and get a 3D pelvic ultrasound. There are other issues that might be responsible for a previous miscarriage – from clotting tendencies to endocrine issues and potentially DNA damage in sperm. Some lifestyle issues can contribute to a higher risk of miscarriage, including obesity, drinking too much caffeine, as well as stress.
Sadly, in less than 50% of cases of recurrent miscarriage a cause is ever determined, which can be disappointing and frustrating for couples.
The next step in your journey to a successful pregnancy
Once the cause of your previous miscarriage or recurrent miscarriages has been determined, there are several ways to improve your chances of a successful pregnancy.
The first recommendation if no abnormalities are found is to keep trying, and in many cases we’ll also start early tracking hormones and carry out an ultrasound. This can help to improve your chances of falling pregnant. Once pregnant, tracking that pregnancy with weekly blood tests and a viability ultrasound around 6-7 weeks can be hugely beneficial for patients.
Taking your fertility journey to the next level
Where the risk of chromosomal abnormalities is high, IVF can dramatically improve the chances of a successful pregnancy. We start with testing of a developing embryo – a procedure known as preimplantation genetic screening. Through this process we can identify healthy embryos, a process that has been shown to improve the chances of successful pregnancies.
Whatever the cause of your previous miscarriage, I can help you explore your options, including simpler processes such as cycle tracking and more involved procedures such as IVF and ICSI treatment.