Understanding Repeated Miscarriage

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
When your pregnancy ends on its own before reaching the 20th week of pregnancy, it’s called a miscarriage. When this happens two or more times in a row, doctors call it a repeated miscarriage. The question is what causes it. This may be difficult to pinpoint, but sometimes these things cause a repeated miscarriage:
  • A mother’s autoimmune condition - In this situation, a woman’s infection-fighting system doesn’t attack infections, but rather attacks her body’s healthy tissue.
  • A change in shape inside a woman’s uterus.
  • Chromosomal problems inside the fetus - The fetus is the growing baby in a pregnant woman’s womb. Chromosomes are the structures inside of cells, which hold thousands of genes. Problems with chromosomes normally occur by chance. However, sometimes they occur due to a chromosomal problem with either the mother or father. These problems also occur more frequently with older moms.
  • Additional medical conditions of the mother - These may include such conditions as thyroid disease, hormone problems, blood clotting problems or diabetes.
However, in a large number of situations, doctors aren’t able to figure out the cause of repeated miscarriage. To try to come up with a better idea, though, doctors will do a number of things including:
  • An exam, as well as a pelvic exam
  • Ask questions about your former pregnancies, medical conditions and monthly periods
  • Conduct an imaging test of your uterus - There are different types of tests available; one of the most common is a certain type of ultrasound. This uses sound waves to display an image of the inside of your body.
  • Blood tests - This will check your blood clotting system, hormone levels and immune system. Tests also look for medical conditions including diabetes or thyroid disease.
  • Chromosomal tests on mother and father - Before you and your partner are tested, and after, you’ll likely speak with a genetic counselor that is an expert in genetic problems.
  • Look inside your uterus - To do this test, a thin tube with a camera and light is inserted in your vagina, and upwards into your uterus.

Depending on your personal situation, other tests may be ordered, as well.

Treating a repeated miscarriage

As for treating a repeated miscarriage, a doctor will treat the problem if they can find a possible cause. Finding and treating a cause may help you have a successful pregnancy in the future. If the problem is in your uterus, you may be able to treat it with surgery. Medicine may help if you have certain hormone, immune or medical problems.

Preventing another miscarriage

Unfortunately, you can’t completely void all chances of having another miscarriage in the future. However, you may be able to reduce the chances of having a repeated miscarriage if you avoid things like caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and any type of belly injury. Staying at a healthy weight can also be beneficial.

The good news is, in many cases, women with repeated miscarriage do have successful pregnancies later on. If you’re planning to get pregnant, make sure your doctor knows. Also, make sure you tell them immediately if you discover you might be pregnant. This gives your doctor the opportunity to treat you with things like hormones or other types of treatments early on. This also gives your doctor the ability to start monitoring you from the beginning.

A repeated miscarriage can be a tough thing for a mother, or even a couple, to deal with. If you need help, ask your nurse or doctor for recommendations of a counselor. You may also want to look for a local support group of people who understand your situation because they’ve gone through the same thing.

If you have Rh-negative blood make sure you receive an anti-D immune globulin shot "RhoGAM".

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