During early pregnancy, spotting is normal.
But once you experience menstrual-like cramps or severe abdominal pain and bleeding, there is a chance that you may be experiencing a miscarriage.
In similar cases, seeking medical attention is crucial.
A recurrent miscarriage is when you experience three or more miscarriages in a row.
If you have suffered from recurrent miscarriage, you will mostly be referred to a gynaecologist so possible causes are identified.
Understandably, repeated miscarriages can leave you feeling hopeless and at the same time fearful.
Fortunately, you can still have a baby despite the fact that you have experienced recurrent losses. This is especially true if tests show no reason for the miscarriages.
Statistics have shown that six out of ten women who had experienced recurrent miscarriages still have a chance of conceiving successfully.
How common is this condition?
One out of 100 pregnant women experiences recurrent miscarriage. Unfortunately, in some women, the cause of the condition is unknown.
In about half the cases, doctors are incapable of pinpointing the primary cause of the condition.
However, some causes and risk factors have been identified as to why some women miscarry again and again.
What causes it?
Even if no reason is identified for the miscarriages, there is still a high chance that the next pregnancy will already be successful.
However, some health problems are found to have been linked to miscarriage. Even until now, experts are continually finding out as to why recurrent miscarriages occur.
Here are some risk factors that have been found to lead to recurrent miscarriages:
- Hormonal problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS
- Bacterial vaginosis, a vaginal infection found to increase your risk of late miscarriage and premature birth.
- Antiphospholipid syndrome or APS, a problem that makes your blood clot even if it should not (aka Hughes syndrome or sticky blood syndrome).
- Thrombophilia, a condition where the blood tends to form more clots than normal. (This is an inherited blood-clotting problem that is somewhat similar to APS. The only difference is thrombophilia is inborn while APS is acquired.)
- Genetic problems such as chromosomal abnormalities. You or your partner may have a chromosomal anomaly that doesn’t cause any problem until passed on to the fetus.
- Cervix or uterus abnormalities. You may have a weak cervix or your womb has an abnormal shape.
- Older women are more susceptible to miscarriages. The age of your partner may also increase the risk of miscarriage.
Around the age of 35, the capability of your ovaries to produce eggs with good quality tends to diminish. As a result, the genetic material in your eggs may have some abnormalities that can affect fertilization. A chromosomal anomaly is therefore possible which then increases your risk of miscarriage.
What tests are commonly used to determine recurrent miscarriage?
In most instances, your gynaecologist will recommend that you undergo a series of tests to determine the main cause of the miscarriages.
You will be asked to have a blood test to screen for APS or sticky blood syndrome. If you’re found to have APS, your healthcare provider will prescribe anticoagulant medications such as warfarin or heparin to treat APS the next time you’re pregnant.
Both you and your partner should undergo karyotyping, a test used to screen for chromosomal abnormalities. If one of you has a chromosomal anomaly, you will most likely be referred to a clinical genetics specialist for genetic counselling.
Ultrasound scans might also be recommended to check your womb. A scan may show an abnormality that makes conception challenging.