The Heartache of Recurrent Miscarriage

Almost one quarter (22.5%) of our patients have suffered from miscarriage or recurrent miscarriage.  Of those, our records show that at least 45% do become pregnant again and most of those patients go on to give birth.  But what happens to those who don't stay pregnant and suffer one miscarriage after another?  

Lately, the number of women coming to us with recurrent miscarriage seems to have increased and these patients are experiencing anger, frustration and grief on an emotional level, as well as the aftermath of blood loss and surgery on a physiological level.   They feel alone - surrounded by friends or relatives either pregnant or with babies; ignored by the doctors - who insist that tests are only available once three miscarriages have occurred, and at a loss as to how to help themselves.

Mark Zuckerberg highlighted the tragedy of miscarriage last year with comments on Facebook about he and his wife's attempts to have a child.  After three miscarriages and then a successful pregnancy, he wrote:

It’s a lonely experience. Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you. So you struggle on your own.

Loneliness does seem to characterise how the couple, and the individual, feels after a miscarriage.  Each pregnancy loss is a blow which most people do not want to share or discuss for fear of re-living the pain.  We very much understand and acknowledge a couple's, specifically the woman's, grief and loss, and try to provide a safe space to talk and be understood.  But we do, as a team, also try to help a couple communicate, find strength in each other and to look forward and visualise the possibilities.  

Partially, we do this by advising some practical steps. For example, we might recommend tests such as Hair Mineral Analysis, which can indicate abnormal levels of metals (like mercury, lead and aluminium - all very unhelpful in conception and pregnancy) in the body tissue.  The tests are relatively cheap to do and our nutritionist will go through the data with you and advise on ways to balance out the nutrients and eliminate toxins in the body (for both partners).   We also suggest private testing for those who don't want to wait for a third miscarriage.  Both chromosomal and blood clotting tests are available from private clinics.  Some patients have looked online and found information about immunological involvement - we can pass on information on clinics who offer testing for levels of Natural Killer Cells.  DNA Fragmentation testing is also available - offering a way to look at the involvement of the sperm in recurrent miscarriage which previously could only be guessed at. Research indicates that sperm DNA fragmentation could be a large factor in recurrent miscarriage. 

On the other hand, some patients are not ready to move forward and try again and our experience has shown us that sometimes just waiting, supporting and being there, is what that person needs most.  There is a huge fear and anxiety around trying again, which is wholly understandable and needs time - days, weeks, months -  to change into the courage to move on.  We also understand, and support the fact, that 'moving on' does not exclusively take the form of another pregnancy.