A miscarriage can be a physically and emotionally painful experience. For couples who have been trying desperately to have a baby, the emotional high of a positive pregnancy test followed by the low of a miscarriage can be devastating. But when a couple experiences pregnancy loss two or more times after it being clinically confirmed, it may be time to speak to a fertility specialist about why you are able to achieve a pregnancy, but not carry it to term. In honor of Pregnancy Loss Awareness month, the fertility experts of UNC Fertility in Raleigh, North Carolina, go over the facts about recurrent pregnancy loss and the options available to patients experiencing it.
What is Recurrent Pregnancy Loss?
Miscarriage is far more common than people think – more than a quarter of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage. While many women who experience a miscarriage will not even realize they are pregnant, one to two percent will experience recurrent pregnancy loss. This is when a woman experiences two or more clinically confirmed pregnancies (confirmed prior to miscarriage by ultrasound or pregnancy tissue after the miscarriage).
There are many reasons a woman will experience recurrent pregnancy loss. For many, it is due to genetic abnormalities in the eggs or sperm, resulting in a genetically abnormal embryo. In many of these cases, the woman will miscarry as the pregnancy is not viable. The genetic abnormalities may be due to abnormalities in either parent, or due to decreased egg quality due to advanced maternal age. Other causes include issues with the uterus or uterine cavity, including the presence of fibroids, polyps, or abnormal shape.
What Options Are Available to Women Suffering RPL?
Luckily for couples experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss, there is hope. The first step would be to meet with a fertility specialist to provide a full picture of your family history and undergo a variety of tests to identify any possible issues. Some tests include:
- An Ultrasound
- A Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
- A Saline Infused Sonogram
- Genetic Testing
- Hormone Testing
These tests will help your UNC Fertility doctor determine if your uterus is the correct shape, if there are fibroids or polyps interfering with a healthy pregnancy, or if there is a genetic or hormonal issue that is causing you to miscarry.
For women who have fibroids or polyps, and for some uterine defects, surgery can help correct the issue and enable you to carry a pregnancy to term. For those with hormonal issues, medication may be prescribed to get their hormones into an acceptable level. If it is possible that the issue is a genetic one, patients can opt to undergo IVF with pre-implantation genetic testing to identify which embryos are genetically normal and implant those to produce a healthy pregnancy.
What If There is No Surgical, Hormonal, or Genetic Solution?
While many women suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss can achieve and maintain a pregnancy after undergoing the correct fertility treatment, others may need to consider alternative family building options. Options such as surrogacy, sperm donation, or egg donation can help most couples build the families of their dreams.
To learn more about the options available to women struggling with recurrent pregnancy loss who would like to build or grow their family, contact UNC Fertility’s team of specialists at 919-908-0000 to schedule a consultation with one of our fertility experts.