Hundreds of thousands of women are affected by miscarriage each year in the U.S. In the vast majority of cases, there is no way of preventing a miscarriage, and it occurs because of problems with the fetus's genes that stop it from developing. Once a miscarriage has started happening, there is no way to stop it, but there are ways to prevent future miscarriages.
Having a miscarriage does not typically mean that you won't be able to get pregnant again, and most women go on to have a successful pregnancy.
The medical definition of miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks. Research has found that as many as 15% of pregnancies finish in miscarriage, the most risky time being between six and eight weeks, starting from the last menstrual period.
Miscarriages can occur for many reasons, although not all of which can be identified. Nonetheless, women should get informed about the common causes of miscarriage to learn what steps to take in order to know how to deal with it.
What causes miscarriage?
In most cases, miscarriage is produced by genetic abnormality. There is no other reason for this than bad luck. Another cause is the embryo failing to implant into the lining of the womb. Doctors don't fully understand why this happens, but sometimes, it can be due to a form of hormonal imbalance.
Miscarriage is more common as a woman gets older, as the quality of eggs deteriorates with age. It is also more common in smokers.
Previously having taken the contraceptive pill seems to slightly reduce the risk of having a miscarriage.
Miscarriage is not caused by stress or lack of rest. Once a miscarriage has started, there is very little that can be done to prevent it.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom is vaginal bleeding, which can range from light spotting to heavier than a period. There may be blood clots or other tissue that is not clearly identifiable. Sometimes, a sac-like structure is seen.
Often, there is cramping, with period-type pains. Some women find that the usual symptoms of pregnancy – such as breast tenderness, feeling sick, and having to pass urine more frequently than usual – may stop unexpectedly.
If you have suffered from a miscarriage caused by hormonal imbalance, it might have been produced by a fluctuation in estrogen and progesterone levels. Without a healthy level of these hormones in the body, women are unable to properly conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. This is the reason why maintaining hormonal balance is very important for preventing future miscarriages and promoting healthy pregnancy.
The three approaches to preventing miscarriages
There are three levels approaches to preventing miscarriage: (1) lifestyle changes, (2) alternative medicine, and (3) medications. You should always start with the least risky approach, lifestyle changes, and go on to riskier approaches only if necessary.
This level involves no risk, but may be the hardest way to go. However, maintaining wholesome habits is absolutely essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Practicing these healthy habits can help prevent miscarriages:
- Refraining from smoking
- Eliminating alcohol intake
- Maintaining caffeine intake low
- Avoiding recreational drugs
- Taking a folic acid (vitamin B9) supplement before pregnancy
- Maintaining a healthy weight
While these habits are necessary to ensure a healthy pregnancy, they alone may not balance hormone levels. Since hormonal issues can complicate conception and pregnancy and even lead to miscarriage, it's important to keep levels balanced. One possible way to do this is with some forms of alternative medicine.
Alternative miscarriage prevention methods involve little to no risk and can be considered the best and safest way of treating hormonal imbalance. In this level of approach, herbal remedies are the most effective option.
There are basically two types of herbs for balancing hormones: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating herbs. Phytoestrogenic herbs (e.g., soy, red clover) contain plant estrogens. Therefore, these herbs replace the missing estrogen the body needs; unfortunately, phytoestrogen herbs can potentially increase the risk of reproductive cancers as a result of adding hormones from outside.
Unlike phytoestrogenic herbs, hormone-regulating herbs don't contain any estrogen. Instead, these herbs nourish your hormonal glands, promoting the production of your own natural hormones. This ultimately ends up in balancing overall hormones levels, not just estrogen. Because of their lack of side effects, hormone-regulating herbs, like Macafem, can be considered the safest way of balancing hormone levels and thereby helping to prevent miscarriages.
From Nature & Health magazine, Dr. Gloria Chacon says:
When it comes to balancing hormone levels and preventing miscarriages, a combination of lifestyle adjustments and herbal supplements may be a good route to take.
If a woman has had a miscarriage, a doctor may perform a series of tests to determine the cause. If hormonal imbalance is to blame, certain treatments to balance hormone levels may be prescribed.
One possible medication for treating hormonal imbalance is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While it is useful for raising low estrogen levels, it can raise the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. However, it is usually safe when used for short periods of time in younger women. Other hormonal treatments, such as thyroid medications, may also be prescribed. In the right doses, thyroid hormones typically have no side effects.
This approach will not work for all women. How appropriate this prevention method is depends on the cause of a woman's miscarriage and her hormone levels.
These three levels of approaches are not mutually exclusive. You can use different approaches at different times or combine several at the same time. Nowadays, more and more women are finding that preventing miscarriage is best accomplished via a combination of healthy lifestyle and alternative treatments.