What Can Cause a Miscarriage?

It is never easy to recover emotionally and physically from a miscarriage. What many women do not know is that miscarriages are quite common and affect about 10-25 % of pregnancies, especially before 20 weeks. Understanding the causes of miscarriage may help them handle things better and prevent a potential miscarriage.

What Can Cause a Miscarriage?

There may be different things at play when miscarriages happen during the first trimester as compared to when they happen during the second trimester.

Possible Cause of an Early Miscarriage

Mostly, first trimester miscarriages are the outcome of irregularities with chromosomes of the fetus. Here is more about issues that may lead to an early miscarriage:

  • Chromosome Problems

Chromosomes are blocks of DNA and contain detailed instructions about how the body develops, what color of eyes a baby will have, etc. There will be problems if the baby does not receive enough chromosomes or receives too many of them. Why it happens is still unclear, but when it happens, it normally results in a miscarriage. In fact, studies show that about two-thirds of first trimester miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. Talk to a maternal fetal medicine specialists or a genetic counselor if you have had a miscarriage due to a genetic problem.

  • Sperm DNA Fragmentation

A miscarriage may happen when strands of sperm DNA break and fail to deliver DNA to the egg. You are 2-5 time more likely to have a miscarriage if your partner already has this condition. Sperm DNA fragmentation may occur due to antidepressant use, smoking, chemotherapy, exposure to heat or an enlargement of veins in the scrotum. IVF clinics and male infertility specialists offer help in this regard.

  • Placental Problems

Apart from chromosome and DNA disorders, what can cause a miscarriage in early pregnancy? It is the role of the placenta to supply mother's blood to the baby. Any problem with this organ will affect the development of the baby and may result in a miscarriage.

  • Age Factor

While anyone can have an early miscarriage, women under 30 years of age are less likely to have it. Research shows that 2 in 10 pregnant women between 35 and 39 years of age have a miscarriage. Similarly, more than half of pregnancies result in a miscarriage for women over 45 years of age.

  • Other Causes

In addition, you may find many other causes that lead to first-trimester miscarriage. The list includes smoking during pregnancy, obesity, drug misuse and excessive alcohol use. You may also increase your risk of having a miscarriage if you drink more than 200 mg of caffeine a day. What's more, some women experience an early miscarriage due to low progesterone levels that lead to problems with implantation.

Possible Causes of a Late Miscarriage

What can cause a miscarriagein second trimester? There can be a number of reasons. For instance:

  • Chronic Health Conditions

You are more likely to have a miscarriage in the second trimester if you have chronic health conditions such as lupus, diabetes, hypertension, coeliac disease, kidney disease, and over-or under-active thyroid gland.

  • Infections

Your pregnancy may end in a miscarriage if you have infections such as HIV, bacterial vaginosis, cytomegalovirus, rubella, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia or malaria.

  • Food Poisoning

Eating contaminated food may cause food poisoning that may increase your risk of miscarriage. You may develop listeriosis by eating un-pasteurized dairy products; salmonella by eating raw or partly cooked eggs; or toxoplasmosis by eating undercooked or raw meat.

  • Medications

Certain medications can also increase your risk of miscarriage. The list includes misoprostol used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; retinoids used to treat acne and eczema; and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. Always talk to your doctor before taking any medicines during pregnancy.

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

What can cause a miscarriage? It could be due to a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Caused by hormonal changes, PCOS makes your ovaries to become larger than normal, which often results in infertility. Even if you are fertile and have this condition, your pregnancy is more likely to end in a miscarriage. Still, a large majority of women with this condition manage to have healthy pregnancies.

  • Abnormalities with Womb

Any abnormality with the uterus may lead to second trimester miscarriages. This usually happens when you have an abnormally shaped womb or have non-cancerous growths called fibroids.

  • Weakened Cervix

The muscles of the neck of the womb or the cervix may become weak by an injury to the area after a surgical procedure. This muscular weakness leads to cervical incompetence and causes the cervix to open early during pregnancy. This often leads to a miscarriage.

What Does Not Cause a Miscarriage?

It is common to ask "What can cause a miscarriage?" But it is equally important to know what does not cause it. Let's have the popular myths about miscarriage debunked.

1. Exercise

You do not increase your risk for miscarriage by staying active during pregnancy. In fact, if you exercise under the supervision of your doctor, you actually lower your risk of having a miscarriage. Exercise helps by reducing aches and pains, stress and gestational diabetes risk.

2. Stress

There are conflicting studies on miscarriage and stress, but there is no clear evidence that even too much stress caused by the death of a parent or spouse has anything to do with a miscarriage. Women who are constantly under stress often drink excessively, smoke, or take drugs, which in turn affect pregnancy.

3. Moodiness

Due to a change in hormones, it is quite natural to experience quick mood shifts. However, research shows that there is no connection between excessive bad moods and miscarriage. However, it is a good idea to let your doctor know about it because it can lead to depression, which may not cause a miscarriage but is still not good for your mental and physical wellbeing.

4. Sex

You do not have to worry about having a miscarriage just because having sex with your partner. It is important to ensure that you do not have any other medical condition that prevents you from having sex during pregnancy. 

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