According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, about 25% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. When a woman experiences the loss of two or more consecutive pregnancies in the first or second trimester or the loss of three or more pregnancies before 20 weeks gestation, the condition is termed recurrent miscarriage, or recurrent pregnancy loss.
Chinese medicine treatment for recurrent miscarriage
Traditional Chinese medicine offers effective solutions for recurrent miscarriages due to many causes including immune factors, hormonal imbalances and stress. Treatment of recurrent miscarriage often starts several months before conception to address complex immune issues and improve egg and sperm quality.
Acupuncture is able to rebalance hormonal signaling along the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, reduce stress and inflammation and calm disorders of the immune system.
Chinese herbal medicine enhances blood flow to the uterus, thus promoting the health and growth of the baby.
Nutritional supplements and dietary modification are often necessary during pregnancy to provide optimal nourishment of the mother and baby.
Causes of recurrent miscarriage
The causes of miscarriage are not completely understood, but researchers believe that most miscarriages that occur in the first trimester (first 12 weeks of pregnancy) are caused by randomly occurring chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus that prevent it from developing normally. Medical conditions in the mother (e.g. diabetes) can also lead to miscarriage. Several autoimmune conditions, as well as structural problems within the uterus, may affect implantation and result in first-trimester miscarriages.
Other possible causes:
- Uterine and/or cervical abnormalities
- Chronic illness
- Hormonal problems — too much or too little progesterone
- Blood incompatibility: In some cases, the fetus’s and mother’s blood type do not match, causing the mother to develop antibodies to the fetus.
- This type of incompatibility between mother and fetus is called Rh incompatibility
- Previous miscarriages
- Women over age 40 are at a higher risk, due to higher chromosomal abnormalities
- Folate insufficiency
- Use of certain medications and/or illegal substances
- Prenatal testing, such as amniocentesis and chronic villus sampling
- Environmental factors: Exposure to environmental toxins, radiation and immunologic factors has been associated with miscarriage
Symptoms of miscarriage:
- Pelvic pain
- Cramping in the abdomen or low back
- Weight loss
- White-pink mucus or discharge
- Painful contractions (occurring every 5 to 20 minutes)
- Frequent bowel movements
- Brown or bright red bleeding or spotting
- Decrease in signs of pregnancy (e.g., less morning sickness or loss of breast tenderness)
Prevention of miscarriage
It is recommended that women try to achieve a healthy lifestyle by doing the following:
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Low-impact regular exercise
- Managing stress
- Take folic acid
- Stop smoking
- Avoid use of alcohol and illegal drugs
- Not cleaning the cat’s litter box — helps avoid toxoplasmosis
- Limiting or eliminating caffeine
- Avoid environmental hazards, such as radiation and X-rays
- Avoid certain foods which may have harmful bacteria, such as raw or uncooked meats, deli meats, liver, fish, raw shellfish, raw eggs, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized milk
Western treatment for recurrent miscarriage
Surgery. Surgical procedures may be performed to correct any uterine and/or cervical abnormalities. Sometimes a cervical cerclage procedure, which stitches the cervix shut in women with incompetent cervix, is helpful in preventing pregnancy loss resulting from this abnormality.
Dilation and curettage (D&C).
Hormone therapy. Human menopausal gonadotrophin (hMG) hormone and clomiphene citrate (Clomid) may be useful in treating women who experience recurrent miscarriage due to low levels of the hormone progesterone.
Medical treatment of chronic illness such as diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Treatment for immune system problems. Treatment administering a combination of low-dose aspirin and low-dose heparin may be effective in improving pregnancy outcome in women with recurrent pregnancy loss.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). A combination of IVF and PGD is often successful in preventing recurrent miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo.