Truths and Myths about Miscarriage

09 Mar 2021

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Causes of Miscarriage

Introduction

Whether you have experienced a miscarriage before or are worried about the risk of miscarrying during your pregnancy now, it’s important to understand the causes of miscarriage. Women are bombarded with a lot of conflicting information about miscarriage reasons, giving rise to feelings of guilt and creating unfounded fears. While much of the advice that you receive as an expectant mom is well intentioned, not all of it is factual. We’ll explore some of the common claims about the causes of miscarriage, helping you discern myths from facts.

Miscarriage Reasons: Myths vs Facts

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Claim #1: Exercising or Drinking Coffee Causes Miscarriage

Myth – While certain behaviors like heavy alcohol consumption and smoking are associated with a higher risk of miscarriage, other lifestyle choices like working, having your morning cup of coffee, and exercising are not at fault. In fact, most doctors recommend light to moderate exercise during pregnancy and studies show that there’s no link between exercising and miscarriage (1). To be safe, however, avoid high intensity exercises or highly strenuous activities. 

Claim #2: A Previous Miscarriage Means You Will Miscarry Again

Myth – An earlier miscarriage is not regarded as one of the causes of miscarriage. Just 1 percent of women experience recurrent miscarriages (3 or more successive first trimester miscarriages) and among these women, roughly 75 percent eventually have full-term babies (2). In other words, a previous miscarriage or series of miscarriages doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have another miscarriage. 

Claim #3:  Having Hot Tub or Steam Baths Causes Miscarriage

Fact – Using a hot tub or sauna increases your overall body temperature and this rise in body temperature is regarded as threatening for the health of your pregnancy. In fact, research shows that hot tub use early in the first trimester could double the risk of miscarriage, while frequent use increased the risk even more (3)

Claim #4: Sex During Pregnancy Causes Miscarriage

Myth – Unless your doctor has advised against sexual activity because of some underlying pregnancy complication, there is no reason to abstain from sex during pregnancy. During sex there is no penetration of the uterus and so it is certainly not one of those things that cause miscarriage. Researchers have even investigated the possible link between sexual intercourse during pregnancy and miscarriage or other complications and found no connection (4)

Claim #5: High Stress Levels Can Cause Miscarriage

Fact – All of us experience some amount of stress in life and normal levels of stress will not adversely affect pregnancy. However, chronic stress or high levels of stress cause levels of stress hormones like cortisol to remain elevated, and this has been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage (5). If you have trouble managing stress, you can use a variety of natural methods of stress reduction during your pregnancy. 

Claim #6: Past Use of Birth Control Can Cause Miscarriage

Myth – Prior use of birth control has no bearing on your current risk of miscarriage because of the manner in which birth control works. Pills work by preventing ovulation or fertilization of eggs and stopping the pill reverses these effects. The same holds true with techniques like IUDs and you can get pregnant as soon as you stop using birth control. Studies have demonstrated that conception soon after stopping contraceptive use does not increase the risk of miscarriage (6).

Claim #7: Your Age Can Be A Cause of Miscarriage

Fact – Women who conceive after the age of 40 face a 50 percent risk of miscarriage, making advanced age one of the common causes of miscarriage today (7). This risk of miscarrying is also higher for women who are 35 and older, but their chances of having a normal and healthy pregnancy are higher than the risk of having a miscarriage. 

References:

  1. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0401/p437.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741961/
  3. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/158/10/931/80747
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11165596/
  5. https://www.jimmunol.org/content/190/12/6051
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18578746/
  7. https://journals.lww.com/co-obgyn/Abstract/2018/12000/Pregnancy_outcome_in_mothers_over_the_age_of_35.2.aspx
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621042/

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