Miscarriages: Are they normal?

How often it occurs
As surprising as it may sound, anywhere from 30 - 50% of all pregnancies spontaneously abort, or miscarry. Most of these miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy, so a woman may not even know that she conceived in the first place.

Since even 30% is a fairly large number, it is really not uncommon for a woman to miscarry twice in a row. While this may be distressing for her, she should not immediately believe that she has some sort of medical condition preventing her from carrying a baby to term. In most cases, the developing embryo was not forming properly, or was missing something genetically that prevented it from progressing properly. Most doctors tell women that they should come in for a thorough examination only after a third spontaneous abortion.

Why does it happen?
Getting a thorough examination after the third miscarriage is sound medical advice, considering how expensive fertility treatments may be - after all, why not give Mother Nature a fair chance before resorting to another method? Fortunately, for most women, the culprit for their inability to carry a child is a chemical imbalance, rather than a problem with her anatomy. For example, it may be that she is not producing enough progesterone, the hormone, as its name suggests, which promotes gestation. Without adequate levels of it, an embryo cannot develop. Simply taking the hormone in pill form may be enough to correct her problem. Other treatable conditions include thyroid hormone imbalances or diabetes. Some researchers also suspect that women unable to carry babies may have an immunological problem, where their body's own defenses recognize the embryo as "non-self," and prevent the baby from being carried to term.

Of course, a doctor must also examine a woman's anatomy to see if it is somehow the source of the problem. To rule out this possibility, a woman undergoes a hystergram, which is a test that examines the shape and condition of her uterus. For women who abort much later in term, such as around 16 - 24 weeks, anatomical abnormalities are very often the cause. For example, some women have an incompetent cervix, which is unable to stay closed as the weight of the growing fetus pushes on it. This condition is easily treated through a process called cerclage, in which the cervix is stitched shut until the pregnancy comes to term.

What to do
Since any sort of physical or biochemical abnormality is actually quite rare, a woman who miscarries should not fret too much about its cause. Instead, she should keep herself healthy, attribute it to bad luck, and stay willing to try again before seeking medical attention. After all, as they say, the third time is a charm.

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