Approximately 15-25% of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage (also known as spontaneous abortion). The cause is most often due to chromosomal and genetic abnormalities, meaning the fetus could not live outside of the uterus. When a person experiences three or more miscarriages in a row, the term recurrent pregnancy loss is used. A proper work-up, family history and assessment for risk factors can help with future miscarriage prevention.
For someone who has suffered one or more miscarriages it can be frustrating to be told by doctors that there’s no clinical action to be taken. Since miscarriage is so common most doctors will not do any further investigations into the cause of one or even two miscarriages. For a family trying to conceive this can be frustrating. That is why naturopathic care and other supportive medicine can be invaluable during this time.
1. Proper Clinical Assessment
It is our role as Naturopathic Doctors to help educate patients on the common risk factors associated with miscarriage. We will investigate diet and lifestyle factors, and screen for biological and pathological markers related to miscarriage. The most effective approach for miscarriage prevention, especially in cases of recurrent loss, often involves co-management with specialists at a fertility clinic. It takes a team approach to ensure that we leave no stone unturned and figure out the best solution to help you carry to term.
Autoimmunity, especially undiagnosed autoimmune conditions, is a huge risk factor for miscarriage and pregnancy related complications. Autoimmunity refers to when our own immune system attacks our cells and tissues. It is important to screen for and receive proper diagnosis for conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Antiphospholipid Syndrome and Celiac Disease. This is done by performing relevant physical exams, ordering blood work and clinical assessment of signs and symptoms. Treatment often includes a combination of herbal, nutritional and medical therapy to help manage inflammation and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
3. Hormonal Imbalance
Low levels of progesterone can lead to improper development of the lining of our uterus. When this occurs, the uterus is not prepared to maintain a pregnancy and miscarriage can occur. Think of the uterus as a fluffy duvet- it needs to be thick and inviting for an egg (embryo) to implant after fertilization has occurred. By assessing for and treating this condition called luteal phase defect (LPD) we can help balance your hormones and prepare the uterus for a healthy pregnancy. Supplementing with vaginal progesterone suppositories has been shown to reduce the risk of miscarriage following IVF in women with LPD.
Women may have certain genetic mutation that contribute to miscarriage. One such mutation can lead to high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in our body. This causes inflammation in the blood vessels throughout our body and increases the risk of blood clots and recurrent early pregnancy loss due to vascular complications.Treatment focuses on testing homocysteine levels in the blood, and targeted nutritional support to reduce homocysteine if necessary.
If you or someone you know is struggling to maintain a healthy pregnancy, you do not need to suffer in silence. You deserve a proper workup and the answers you need. Dr. Laura von Hagen offers complimentary consults for all patients to learn about her approach to integrated fertility treatments, and how she can best help you on your fertility journey. Let’s make your goal of a healthy baby turn into a reality.
This is a summary and adaptation of the article When You’re Not Carrying to Term: Everything You Need to Know About Miscarriage Prevention by Dr. Laura von Hagen. Read the full article here. Dr. von Hagen is a naturopath based in Toronto and accepts patients at Higher Health. She has a special interest in fertility care, hormonal disorders, PCOS, stress management and pregnancy health. We are happy to have Dr. von Hagen as a verified provider here at Womb & Wellness.