What is Recurrent Miscarriage?

2 or more consecutive pregnancy losses is defined as recurrent miscarriage or recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL)

How Common Is Recurrent Miscarriage?

Miscarriages in the first trimester are thought to be as high as 50% with many women not even realizing that they are pregnant before miscarrying. After having one miscarriage most women go on to have a healthy pregnancy. Still there are a few women that will continue to have two or more miscarriages.

Risk Factors for Recurrent Miscarriages

Though any woman can experience recurrent miscarriage, certain factors increase a woman’s chances of experiencing multiple losses. These factors include:

  • Age: As a woman grows older, her chances of experiencing a miscarriage increase with the risk rising steadily after the age of 30 and even more quickly after the age of 40.
  • Lifestyle: Women who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, or take drugs are more likely to experience recurrent miscarriage. Men who drink alcohol on the night of conception is related to a higher incidence of miscarriage.  So remember - don't enter the bedroom drunk!
  • Previous Miscarriage: Women who have already experienced two previous miscarriages are more likely to experience recurrent pregnancy loss. 

Causes of Recurrent Miscarriages

Unfortunately, 50% of couples experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss never find out the cause of their miscarriages even after testing. Yet, some causes of recurrent pregnancy loss have been identified.

  • Genetic Factors

The most common cause of miscarriages in the first trimester is genetic abnormalities in the embryo. Chromosomal problems causing poor embryo quality can be passed down from either the mother or father of the child.

  • Structural Abnormalities

Occurring in at least 2% of all cases of RPL, sometimes the shape or size of the uterus can impede upon the implantation of an embryo or prevent proper growth and development.

  • Hormonal Factors

Hormonal imbalances are believed to play a role in at least 20% of recurrent pregnancy losses. Women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), high levels of luteinizing hormone and low levels of progesterone may experience recurrent pregnancy loss because the hormones needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy are unbalanced.

Because most hormonal issues aren't significant enough to manifest on blood tests, we at Zen Fertlity Center often ask women to chart their basal body temperature (BBT).  This revealing daily record can help detect subtle hormonal issues that appear normal on standard blood tests but are disruptive enough to appear on BBT charts and compromise reproductive function. 

Unfortunately, 50% of couples experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss never find out the cause of their miscarriages even after testing. Yet, some causes of recurrent pregnancy loss have been identified.

  • Blood Clotting Disorders

Blood clotting disorders appear to play a role in 15% of all cases of recurrent miscarriage. Blood clotting disorders prevent the placenta from getting a proper blood supply during pregnancy, causing the fetus to die. This is often due to the presence of high levels of antiphospholipid antibodies (APA) and anticardiolipin antibodies.

  • MTHFR

One potential blood clotting disorder that can contribute to recurrent miscarriages are MTHFR gene mutations. Common mutations in the MTHFR gene can affect how your body processes homocysteine, an amino acid found in the blood, which increases risk of blood clots.

People with MTHFR gene mutations may have elevated levels of homocysteine, although not everyone with a MTHFR gene mutation is affected. (Note that elevated homocysteine is considered a potential risk factor for miscarriages independently and can be caused by other factors beside MTHFR mutations.) People with MTHFR gene mutations can have a decreased ability to metabolize folic acid and other B vitamins, also.

Most doctors do not test for either MTHFR or homocysteine levels because neither has a formally recommended treatment that is solidly shown to reduce the risk of miscarriage. If you would like to find out if this can be a potential cause for recurrent miscarriages, ask your doctor to test for homocysteine levels in your next blood work up. 

If either result comes back abnormal, a natural way to decrease homocysteine levels is to increase B vitamin supplementation. Because homocysteine can be converted in the body into a harmless substance known as cystanthionine, and this conversion is dependent on vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid, increasing intake of these appears to be one simple way of decreasing homocysteine levels in the body.

A recommended supplementation program includes 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day in addition to eating foods rich in folic acid such as spinach, asparagus and broccoli, fruits, vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables), fortified breads and cereals, lentils, chickpeas, and most beans. Adding 10 mg of vitamin B6 and 400 mcg of vitamin B12 to this each day is likely to confer additional benefit in terms of homocysteine reduction. Zen Fertility Center carries and recommends Metagenics Vessel Care as a supplement to assist in homocysteine metabolism.

Treating Recurrent Miscarriage

An individualized and well-constructed regimen of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and supplements offer effective solutions for unexplained recurrent miscarriages or those due to genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, immune factors, and stress.

Acupuncture’s effects to reduce the risk of miscarriage include:

  • increasing the blood flow to the ovaries to nourish the developing follicles and create better egg quality and stronger embryos.
  • increasing blood flow to the testicles for improved sperm quality to optimize the male’s contribution to embryo quality. (Note: this is particular important in couples who experience repeated chemical pregnancies with IVF + ICSI.)
  • nourishing the developing fetus by improving the blood flow to the placenta and preventing uterine contractions.
  • regulating the body’s natural hormonal production which in turn improves ovarian function, egg quality, and proper progesterone levels.
  • relaxing the body and reducing stress levels to prevent early uterine contractions.

Although many doctors recommend abstaining for 3 months before trying to conceive in cases of recurrent miscarriages, the important distinction that is overlooked is that there MUST be treatment to support the body during this period. Abstinence alone will not improve the woman’s health because there is no treatment given to reverse the effects of repeated miscarriages on the mother’s body. Rather, using acupuncture treatment during this period is critical so that her body (and thus eggs) has enough time to get strong enough to carry a healthy pregnancy to term. Prognosis is often excellent because the woman is obviously able to conceive and it becomes a matter of providing enough support for her body to finish the job with the birth of a healthy baby.

A study by the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado Springs found that acupuncture significantly reduces the miscarriage rate from 14% in the control group not receiving acupuncture with their IVF treatment to 8% of women in the group combining acupuncture with their IVF. 

Recommendations to Prepare You for Your Next Pregnancy:

  1. Consider having your homocysteine blood levels checked.  If high, take Vessel Care.
  2. Reduce your stress with conscious deep abdominal breathing throughout the day.
  3. Practice positive affirmations to change your negative thought patterns about your body or your fertility. An example is: “My healthy womb nourishes my baby”.
  4. Eat healthier, less processed foods that are nutrient dense without added sugars and chemicals (i.e. preservatives, food coloring, etc.).
  5. If planning to start acupuncture, begin charting your BBT to help your acupuncturist determine if hormonal imbalances are a factor.
  6. Call us today to start acupuncture.

Zen Fertility Center works closely with Fertility Specialists Medical Group to improve success rates of IVF and inseminations.  In this video, Dr. Arlene Morales talks about recurrent miscarriage and medical treatments available to address this issue.

Success Stories after Miscarriage

Watch how Zen Fertility Center (formerly Chang Acupuncture) helped Valerie Moore have a healthy baby after a history of recurrent miscarriages.

San Diego Fertiltiy acupuncture success after 4 miscarriages
"After 4 miscarriages and 2 failed IVF attempts over the past 3 years, I decided to try acupuncture to get pregnant. After 3 1/2 months of acupuncture with Zen Fertility Center, I finally got pregnant. I offer you my warmest thanks for the care, understanding, and ultimate success you gave me. You have added immeasurably to our family, and to our happiness; there aren't words for my gratitude." - Martha Clay, San Diego
"I came to Zen Fertilitiy Centerwith a history of recurrent pregnancy losses, one at an early gestational age and another one ended with still birth at 32 weeks of gestation. And for unknown causes I had 4 years of secondary infertility after the pregnancy losses. Numerous OBGYN doctors kept telling me that everything was fine, however, no pregnancy in sight... After one month at Zen Fertility Center, I got pregnant. However, it wasn't time to celebrate yet since I started bleeding at 7 weeks of gestation and my OB-GYN told me that nothing could be done at this gestational stage and I have to wait and that bleeding might stop on its own. Being stressed and desperate to get the help, I didn't want to wait and was so scared to miscarry again, I called Zen Fertility Center again. I received intensive therapy for 10 days which included special Chinese herbal tea, acupuncture treatment and heat massaging. And all that led to strengthening my body and thus keeping my pregnancy going and as a result of all these efforts, 9 months later, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl." - O.O., San Diego, CA
San Diego fertility acupuncture success after 3 miscarriages
"I was diagnosed with a complete molar pregnancy, then subsequently had I experienced 3 additional miscarriages. After seeking the care of many physicians and undergoing a great deal of testing and visits to a fertility specialist I was told that there was nothing wrong with me and that I should be able to carry a baby without a problem. Wondering what then, to make of the habitual miscarriages, I began to do research on alternative therapies.
I came across acupuncture as an option for treating problems with pregnancies. I interviewed many acupuncturists, but it was not until speaking with Zen Fertility Clinic that I was confident there was something that an acupuncturist could do for me. I began acupuncture treatments, herbs in the form of pills, nutrition shakes and a modified diet three months before becoming pregnant with our daughter.
I began to experience spotting at approximately 6 weeks, which I feared was the end of this pregnancy, since this was the typical time frame in which the miscarriages occurred. I called Zen Fertility Center, panicked, and was told to come in for acupuncture treatments to get it under control. I went frequently and was prescribed additional herbal tea to drink until I was 24 weeks pregnant. It was with their dedication to helping my baby thrive that I carried her full term.
They were there for me to answer questions and concerns at almost any time of day and were determined to help to bring our baby into this world. Our beautiful baby girl is indeed a miracle!
Words cannot begin to explain the gratitude my husband and I have for these two amazing people. They are truly angels God sent to help us during our time of need. Thank-you both very much!" - Amy Cabrera, San Diego, CA

 

San Diego fertility acupuncture success after 5 miscarriages
"My experience for the last three years trying to conceive my second child has been a very long path. My husband and I had a very easy experience with conceiving my son who will be 5 in July 2011. We thought nothing of it when we were ready to try again. You always hear about people having issues but of course you never think it can happen to you.  
My husband and I experienced 5 miscarriages in a row for the past 21/2 years. I went to my OBGYN and they did tests but came up with no answers and told me to keep trying that the statistics of a woman already giving birth to a child is in their favor. That is very emotional to keep losing a child after a childjust based on a hope. We were referred to an infertility Dr. who also did some tests and also came up with no answers except to tell me to keep trying that it will soon happen for us.  
My husband and I watched on T.V a morning news show and they were talking about infertility. Of course we were tuned to hear what they had to say. Dr. Julie Chang was talking and explaining what she and her staff can provide to people who are experiencing this. I was so excited to find out more. I gave them a call and talked to Julie for a long time. She made me feel so comfortable and set up time with my acupuncturist to have a consultation for my husband and me.  I knew when I met my acupuncturist that I had found my answer. She listened and then she told us the game plan for our situation. I was so happy to hear that we had someone with a plan and not to tell us to keep trying. At first my husband was like “whatever makes you happy, we will try this” but not convinced that little needles can help our situation. We became pregnant! We were so excited but nervous all at the same time. We did think that we were having a little scare in the beginning but Julie kicked it up a notch and told me what I needed to do to help with this pregnancy.
I am happy to say we are in the last trimester and expecting a little girl in March. I believe in what Zen Fertility Center has to offer. We have been blessed with a second miracle in our life.Thank you all for you kindness and well wishes for us and wish nothing but the best for all the people who want to be blessed with a little miracle themselves." - H.C., San Diego, CA