By definition, recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is distinct from infertility, but it is still an issue of concern for reproductive specialists. Women who have experienced two or more miscarriages should be examined to see if there is a treatable condition that is preventing pregnancy from progressing to term. Contact Laurence Jacobs, M.D. to find answers about your recurrent miscarriage at our Chicago area offices.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, "Although approximately 25% of all recognized pregnancies result in miscarriage, less than 5% of women under 35 years old will experience two consecutive miscarriages, and only 1% experience three or more." Recurrent miscarriage is more common among women over the age of 35, due to the increased frequency of chromosomal anomalies in the embryo.
It is true that 33 to 50 % of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage simply due to older, poorer quality eggs that predispose to genetic chromosomal abnormalities (aneuploidy – extra or missing chromosomes such as Down Syndrome). However, there are many other treatable causes for recurrent miscarriage [recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL)]:
Some debatable causes of miscarriage relating to increased natural killer cells (NK) will be mentioned. Some unproven therapies involve administering Leukocyte Immune Therapy (LIT) (white blood cells from your partner or 3rd party strangers) to stimulate the woman to make more 'blocking antibodies' to protect the fetus. LIT has recently been banned by the FDA. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy is also very controversial since most infertility specialists don't see much benefit; there's a lack of good controlled studies; it's very expensive; and it involves using blood products from so there is a small risk of transmission of hepatitis or HIV from the transfusions. More randomized controlled studies are needed for IVIG therapy. For abnormal NK activation, Intralipid therapy is safe and far less expensive, and generally preferred.
Recurrent miscarriage is a stressful and emotionally taxing condition. At our fertility center, we strongly encourage patients to seek some form of emotional support to help them through their experiences. Grief, anger, helplessness, fear, and isolation are all common among patients with this condition. Group support or one-on-one counseling can make a significant difference in a patient's ability to cope. We offer complimentary psychological counseling with our full time staff member.
Read an article about coping with the holidays for fertility patients (PDF)
If you have been experiencing recurrent miscarriage, contact our fertility center in the Chicago, Illinois area to schedule a consultation.