After a miscarriage, women often wonder if they did something wrong.
“It’s human nature to blame yourself,” said Danny Schust, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at MU Health Care. “But you can take all that guilt and put it on a shelf, because there is frequently a medical reason for miscarriage that has nothing to do with your lifestyle choices.”
Schust works in MU Health Care’s fertility clinic. He specializes in treating women who have experienced two or more miscarriages in their lifetime — a condition known as recurrent pregnancy loss.
At an hourlong consultation appointment, Schust will gather your medical history, discuss your previous pregnancies and schedule a few tests that likely will reveal the cause of your miscarriages.
“The prognosis for women with recurrent pregnancy loss is actually quite good,” Schust said. “More often than not, we find something that can be addressed through prescription medication, fertility treatment or a minor surgical procedure. And even if the testing is negative, we can recommend treatments that are shown to improve outcomes.”
The source of recurrent pregnancy loss often is found in one of four areas:
- The uterus: Fibroids, polyps or scar tissue inside your uterus — or an abnormally shaped uterus — can lead to pregnancy loss.
“We will conduct a hysteroscopy in our office where we place a small, flexible camera inside your uterus and look for abnormalities,” Schust said. “If we see something, we will schedule a follow-up visit for minor in-office surgery to remove the culprit. The procedure is pretty easy and can be dramatically effective. Most women only need to take one day off of work.”
- Genetics: Testing might reveal that you and your partner carry a chromosomal mutation that is passed down to the baby each time you get pregnant.
“Genetic testing is done through a blood test, and if the results show a chromosomal issue that is causing recurrent miscarriages, we can offer in vitro fertilization as a treatment option,” Schust said. “In vitro fertilization allows us to grow multiple embryos in our laboratory, study the chromosomes in each one and transfer the chromosomally normal embryos back into the woman’s body.”
- Hormones: A blood test might reveal hormonal imbalances that impact your ability to have a full-term pregnancy.
“We will check your hormone levels and look for things like thyroid disorder and diabetes,” Schust said. “We can usually treat hormone imbalances and thyroid diseases with prescription medications. If we find that you have diabetes, we will refer you to a specialist who can help you manage the disease and optimize your health for pregnancy.”
- Clotting disorders: If you have a blood clotting disorder, your body will struggle to properly nurture your baby and help it grow, which may greatly increase the risk of miscarriage.
“Some clotting disorders are genetic, while others are acquired autoimmune diseases,” Schust said. “Regardless, we are able to find them through a series of blood tests. And fortunately, the vast majority of clotting disorders can be easily treated by taking prescription blood thinners during pregnancy.”