While the chance of miscarriage stands at 10-25%, the occurrence of recurrent miscarriage is
much lower at 1-2%. The risk is relatively higher, however, for women over 35 or who’ve had
Recurrent miscarriage is different from infertility, which is an inability to conceive.
Determining the primary cause enables the obstetrician or fertility doctor to provide the appropriate treatment plan to increase chances of future pregnancy and live birth. Possible causes of recurrent miscarriages are many and vary from case to case. These include:
To determine the possible cause of multiple miscarriages, the specialist starts by assessing the
patient’s medical history and previous pregnancies. A complete physical exam, which includes a
thorough pelvic exam, must be done. In cases where tissue is passed during the miscarriage, the
woman may be encouraged to preserve and send it immediately to the doctor for laboratory tests.
If a genetic abnormality is suspected to be the cause of miscarriage or infertility, a discussion as to which DNA tests are appropriate, a Comparative Genenomic Hybridisation or Karyotype testin is usually recommended. Carrier Screening for rare genetic diseases could also be offered especially if the family history is suggestive. Blood tests from both parents are collected and assessed to identify the number, size and shape of the chromosomes and the presence of absence of small additions or loss of DNA along the chromosomes. The current state of the art also offers the couple the chance to understand their risk of carrying genes which cause may cause genetic syndromes which are not necessarily identifiable at birth.
Imaging tests such as an ultrasound or MRI are done if miscarriages occur because of problems with
the structures of the uterine or cervix. For instance, a hysterosalpingogram, which captures an
X-ray image of the uterus and fallopian tubes, can show if the uterus has an irregular shape.
Conversely a 3D ultrasound of the uterus is a possible optional imaging tool.
Additionally, blood tests are conducted to detect hormonal imbalances and autoimmune illnesses.
It is important to note, however, that despite the number of tests done, the percentage of patients who receive a clear and accurate diagnosis for recurrent miscarriage is only about 50%. The remaining half typically don’t get a definite diagnosis. Regardless of a diagnosis or the absence of one, chances of full-term pregnancies and live births after miscarriages can be as high as 80%, depending on the mother’s age.
For recurrent miscarriage cases with a clear diagnosis, treatment options range from simple
lifestyle changes to major surgeries.
Genetic counselling is recommended for couples in cases where chromosomal errors play a huge part in miscarriages. In the case where translocation is involved, an effective solution for couples is in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF surgery particularly entails preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), in which an unaffected embryo is selected for implantation. This also reduces the risk of the baby inheriting a genetic condition such as Huntington’s disease, thalassaemia or cystic fibrosis.
For congenital defects such as an abnormally-shaped uterus or septate uterus, surgery may be recommended to correct them. This is also suitable for removing fibroids, polyps and scar tissue that endangers pregnancy outcome. Cervical weakness or incompetence is usually addressed by a cerclage, in which a suture or synthetic tape to support the hold of the cervix.
Medicines are prescribed for patients with autoimmune or hormonal conditions. Lupus and
antiphospholipid syndrome, which cause blood clots, can be treated with blood-thinning
prescriptions like aspirin. Hormonal imbalances are remedied with progesterone supplements or
Lifestyle changes, including maintaining a healthy weight and stopping smoking and drinking alcohol and caffeine, and drug use, can greatly reduce the risk of miscarriages.
After miscarriages, a lot of couples can get pregnant naturally. However, in some situations, medically assisted fertilization such as IVF may increase their chances of conceiving and preventing miscarriages or other complications especially where age and time is becoming more urgent.
Dr. Ann Tan from Women Fertility & Fetal Centre offers comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options in the fields of obstetrics, gynaecology and infertility to help mothers achieve a successful pregnancy. Schedule an appointment today. Call +65 6734 8188.
3 Mount Elizabeth #11-12
Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre,