Understanding Recurrent Miscarriage
Recurrent miscarriage is when a woman experiences the loss of two or more consecutive pregnancies in the first or second trimester, or the loss of three or more pregnancies before 20 weeks gestation. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, about 25% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Common symptoms of a miscarriage include pelvic pain, cramping in the abdomen or lower back, weight loss, white-pink mucus or discharge, painful contractions (occurring every 5 to 20 minutes), frequent bowel movements, brown or bright red bleeding or spotting, and any decrease in signs of pregnancy (e.g., morning sickness or loss of breast tenderness).
Causes of Recurrent Miscarriage
The causes of miscarriage are not completely understood, but researchers believe that most miscarriages occurring in the first trimester (first 12 weeks of pregnancy) are caused by randomly occurring chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus that prevent it from developing normally. Medical conditions in the mother (e.g., diabetes) can also lead to miscarriage. Several autoimmune conditions, as well as structural problems within the uterus, may affect implantation and result in first trimester miscarriages.
Other Possible Causes
- Uterine and/or cervical abnormalities
- Chronic illness
- Hormonal problems: too much or too little progesterone
- Blood incompatibility: In some cases, the fetus’ and mother’s blood type do not match, causing the mother to develop antibodies to the fetus. This type of incompatibility between mother and fetus is called Rh incompatibility.
- Previous miscarriages
- Women over age 40 are at a higher risk due higher chromosomal abnormalities.
- Folate insufficiency
- Alcohol use
- Use of certain medications and/or illegal substances
- Prenatal testing like amniocentesis and chronic villus sampling
- Environmental factors: Exposure to environmental toxins, radiation, and immunologic factors have been associated with miscarriage.
Prevention of Miscarriage
It is recommended that women try to achieve a healthy lifestyle by doing the following:
- Eat a healthy and well balanced diet
- Exercise regularly, low impact
- Manage stress
- Take folic acid
- Stop smoking
- Avoid the use of alcohol and illegal drugs
- Do not clean the cat’s litter box to help avoid toxoplasmosis
- Limit or eliminate caffeine
- Avoid environmental hazards, such as radiation and x-rays
- Avoid certain foods which may have harmful bacteria, such as raw or uncooked meats, deli meats, liver, fish, raw shellfish, raw eggs, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized milk
How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treat Recurrent Miscarriage
Chinese medicine and acupuncture offer effective solutions for recurrent miscarriages due to immune factors, hormonal imbalances, and stress. Our program addresses these issues using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, reproductive organ massage, and nutritional guidance.
Acupuncture increases the blood flow to the ovaries to nourish the developing follicles and create better egg quality and stronger embryos. Acupuncture also warms the uterus to nourish the developing fetus, improve the blood flow to the placenta, and prevent uterine contractions. It normalizes the function of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis to regulate and improve the body’s natural hormonal production, which in turn improves ovarian function, egg quality, and proper progesterone levels. And, acupuncture relaxes the body and reduces stress levels to prevent early uterine contractions.
Chinese herbs build strong, nutrient-rich blood for the ovaries which will better nourish the developing follicles and create better egg quality and stronger embryos. The herbs also normalize the function of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis to regulate and improve the body’s natural hormonal production, which in turn improves ovarian function and egg quality. And, Chinese herbs nourish the spleen, kidney, and liver systems which are responsible for our reproductive health.
Reproductive organ massage is a highly specialized form of therapeutic massage that manipulates the fascia of the pelvic cavity and breaks down adhesions and cysts in order to restore pelvic blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow increases egg quality, hormonal production, and warms the uterus.
Nutritional guidance is customized for each patient based on the health of her kidney, liver, and spleen functions, which control our reproductive health and underlie our metabolic processes. The diet emphasizes low glycemic foods and foods rich in Vitamin B and omega’s to influence overall health and well being.
How Western Medicine Treats Recurrent Miscarriage
- Surgery: Surgical procedures may be performed to correct any uterine and/or cervical abnormalities. Sometimes a cervical cerclage procedure that stitches the cervix shut in women with an incompetent cervix is helpful in preventing pregnancy loss resulting from this abnormality.
- D and C: Dilation & Curettage, a procedure which involves the dilation of the cervix and the scraping of the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) and removal of any remaining tissue.
- Hormone therapy: Human menopausal gonadotrophin (hMG) hormone and Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid) may be useful in treating women who experience recurrent miscarriage due to low levels of the hormone progesterone.
- Medical treatment of chronic illness: Women with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and polycystic ovarian syndrome can be treated for these specific conditions which can contribute to recurrent miscarriage.
- Treatment for immune system problems: Treatment administering a combination of low dose aspirin and low dose heparin may be effective in improving pregnancy outcome in women with recurrent pregnancy loss.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD): A combination of IVF and PGD is often successful in preventing recurrent miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo. Before the embryo is transferred back to the uterus it can be tested to determine any chromosomal abnormalities.