Close-up of a sad and depressed womanAn early miscarriage is a common occurrence, more common than many people think. Some estimates say 20 to 30 percent of pregnancies end in pregnancy loss, and the majority of these losses occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The causes of early miscarriage are numerous.

Many women who suffer an early miscarriage are understandably sad and want to know what happened. In many cases, it’s impossible to know for sure what caused a miscarriage for a specific case. There are, however, many common reasons for why a pregnancy fails early.

Irregularities in the chromosomes cause many early pregnancy losses. In other words, either the sperm or the egg had the wrong number of chromosomes, so the resulting embryo cannot develop properly.

Sometimes, chromosomal irregularities result in what is called a blighted ovum. This term means the fertilized egg implants in the uterus while the gestational sac and the placenta begin to develop, but the embryo stops developing or does not begin to develop at all. Because the placenta began to form, however, you might get a positive on your pregnancy test. You might even have early pregnancy symptoms. This situation can result in what is referred to as a “chemical pregnancy.”

If the mother is suffering from a chronic condition, it can affect the viability of pregnancy. Some autoimmune disorders, diabetes, blood clotting disorders and hormone irregularities can contribute to a miscarriage. Obesity has also been linked to miscarriage. In addition, infections can cause miscarriage. Some diseases like mumps, listeria, rubella, measles, gonorrhea or other infections can contribute to miscarriage.

Other causes of miscarriage can be the age of the mother. Women who are older tend to have lower-quality eggs, which are more prone to chromosomal abnormalities that result in miscarriage. Still another is a history of miscarriages. Some women have two or more miscarriages, called recurrent miscarriage. This is typically indicative of some other medical condition, including uterine or cervical problems, triggering the miscarriage.

There are outside influences on miscarriage as well. These include environmental toxins (such as harmful chemicals, exposure to radiation or some anesthetic gasses), medications, smoking, heavy drinking or drug use (such as cocaine and ecstasy).

Barring any of the latter examples, most couples can attempt to get pregnant again in relatively short order. It is important to allow your body some time to regulate itself once again before trying to become pregnant again, however. The general rule of thumb is three months.

Women who have suffered one early miscarriage are unlikely to have a reason their pregnancy failed. Typically a workup is not needed to determine the cause of the pregnancy loss unless two or more have occurred in a row. The good news is that for the majority of cases, women who suffer an early miscarriage go on to have successful pregnancies down the road.

Sources:

“Pregnancy Loss FAQ’s” www.pregnancycorner.com. Web. 3 March 2015. < http://www.pregnancycorner.com/loss/pregnancy-loss-faqs.html>

“Pregnancy Loss: Other FAQs.” www.nichd.nih.gov. Web. 3 March 2015. < http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancyloss/conditioninfo/Pages/faqs.aspx>

“Understanding miscarriage.” www.babycenter.com Web. 3 March 2015. < http://www.babycenter.com/0_understanding-miscarriage_252.bc