Statistics published on Sands.org.au estimate that sadly, “one in four pregnancies will end in a miscarriage” and this could be higher if the woman is over 35. Most happen in the first 20 weeks and many women choose not to talk about their experiences.
The feeling of anger, shame and disappointment are often mixed with thoughts of “what did I do wrong?” and “how could I have prevented this?”
A miscarriage is actually rarely something the mother has caused and is often determined as early as at conception.
If you’ve suffered from one or more miscarriages, there are potential issues that you should ask your Obstetrician or GP to test you for.
6 Things To Get Tested For
1. Natural Killer Cells In The Blood – NK cells are a normal part of the immune system. They protect us from viruses and conditions such as cancer.
In most women, the NK Cells are dampened down during pregnancy. In some women however, the NK Cells are higher than they should be and they see the developing embryo as a foreign invader to the body and attack it, causing miscarriage.
A blood test, such as the ones performed at IVF Australia, can check for issues relating to NK Cells – which can also cause problems even getting pregnant in the first place.
2. Karyotpe Of The Male And Female Partner – Karyotype is a blood test that identifies and evaluates the size, shape and number of chromosomes in a sample of body cells. Extra or missing chromosomes, or abnormal positions of chromosome pieces, can cause problems with a person's growth, development, and body functions. Chromosomal issues are one of the leading causes of miscarriage.
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) can be used to overcome a range of fertility issues and for many couples, gives them the best chance of having a baby when there are recurring issues.
3. Progesterone Levels – If you have had a miscarriage before, you should be tested for progesterone on your next pregnancy. Low levels are linked to miscarrying and you can be given a progesterone supplement via suppository or tablet that you can take to increase your levels.
If you are not yet pregnant, you should see your GP about being referred for a blood test which would normally be on day 21 of your menstrual cycle to see if your levels are where they should be.
4. Chromosome Abnormalities of the Miscarried Products of Conception – If you have had three or more miscarriages, you could ask for the product of conception (which is the tissue that you have passed during a miscarriage or extracted via a D&C operation), to be sent off and analysed.
These tests can determine whether the embryo had a chromosome defect which would likely be the cause of miscarriage.
It's a possibility however that the tissue may only contain maternal matter (from the mother) and no fetal matter could be found. In these instances, unfortunately your questions can't be answered as to whether chromosome abnormalities were the cause of the miscarriage.
5. The Male Partner’s DNA Fragmentation – It's often thought that miscarriage is an issue that needs to be fixed on the female’s side, but studies have shown that moderate to high DNA fragmentation (which means DNA is damaged) of the sperm is linked to recurrent miscarriage.
DNA fragmentation is tested via a semen sample which should also look at the motility (the way the sperm moves) and the morphology (the shape of the sperm). These tests can be taken at most IVF centres.
Read about the studies linking DNA fragmentation to Miscarriage here.
6. MTHFR – Methylene-TetraHydroFolate Reductase is an enzyme that the body uses to convert the Folate found in foods (such as leafy greens) into the active form which is utilised in many processes around the body.
The two main genes involved in this process are MTHFR C677T and A1298C. In some people, these genes are mutated which means they cannot perform the job they are supposed to do.
MTHFR has been heavily linked to recurring miscarriages. Treatment for MTHFR gene mutation might involve taking an activated form of Folate which means that the body does not need to convert it to it’s active form and can utilise it better.
Always see your health provider and do not treat yourself on diagnosis.
Remember, miscarrying doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t fall pregnant again. Stay positive, focused and have a plan to improve your chances of success. Do your research, educate yourself and keep the faith.
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