Let’s talk about miscarriage, and let’s let go of the shame and guilt it so often comes with.

Instead, let’s talk about it with open hearts and open minds and learn the facts about miscarriage, including what causes them, what doesn’t cause them, and what you can do prevent pregnancy loss.

When it comes to your fertility journey, there is hope, and I’m here to help you find it again.

What are the common causes of miscarriage?

1. Abnormal genes or chromosomes
Most miscarriages occur because the fetus isn’t developing typically. About 50% of miscarriages are associated with extra or missing chromosomes. Chromosome problems often result from errors that occur by chance as the embryo divides and grows and not from problems inherited from parents.

2. Maternal health conditions
In a few cases, an unknown health condition might lead to a miscarriage. Some examples to investigate with your doctor may include hormonal imbalances, uterus or cervix issues (such as a weak or incompetent cervix), thyroid conditions, infections, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uncontrolled diabetes, stress, and lifestyle factors.

What increases your risk for miscarriage?

When your body chooses an unhealthy egg, and a miscarriage happens, the embryo is unhealthy and doesn’t develop properly. This is often a result of maternal age or conditions resulting in poor egg quality, such as endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Women older than age 35 have a higher risk of miscarriage than do younger women. At age 35, a woman has about a 20% risk of miscarriage. Overage 40, 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.

While age and hormonal imbalances are beyond your control, you can control other factors to help you reduce your risk of miscarriage. They include:
• Smoking
• Uncontrolled diabetes
• Excess alcohol (over five drinks per week increases risk by four times)
• Excess caffeine (more than 150mg)
• Illicit drug use.

What does NOT cause a miscarriage?

Routine activities such as these do NOT cause a miscarriage:
• Exercise including high-intensity activities such as jogging and cycling
• Lifting
• Sexual intercourse
• Everyday work-life, provided you’re not exposing yourself to harmful chemicals or radiation.

What can you do to improve your egg quality and reduce the risk of miscarriage?

• Make sure you are a healthy weight

Being underweight or overweight increases your risk of a miscarriage. Get as close to a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range of 20-25 as possible. Toxins tend to be fat-soluble, and therefore those with higher body fat percentages will likely have higher toxic loads affecting their egg quality. In women, excess weight and toxins may contribute to problems with ovulation due to hormonal imbalances.

Being underweight and having a low BMI can cause hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) and result in a lack of ovulation and insufficient hormones to menstruate regularly and conceive. Being too thin can also increase the risk of miscarriage if you get pregnant.

The rule of thumb: Find your healthy weight and strike a healthy balance that will nurture your fertility.

• Improve your egg quality

The best thing you can do to reduce your chances of a miscarriage is trying for a family while you’re younger and your egg quality is healthier. I understand sometimes, this is out of our control but do your best, and if you are starting mamahood later in life, seek the guidance of an expert who can help boost your fertility.

Consume a healthy diet rich in nutrients, including lots of organic fruits and vegetables, whatever your age.

Choose organic, pesticide-free foods and avoid chemical products on your body and in your home to lessen the toxic load on your eggs and sperm. A study published in the Journal of Human Reproduction in April 2015 found that pesticides on fruits and vegetables are linked with poorer semen quality. Pesticides are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs affect your reproductive organs, hormones, and pathways in a harmful way).

Another study published in the Journal of Human Reproduction in April 2012 found that women who had higher levels of EDCs in their follicular fluid had fewer follicles properly mature to eggs and less mature embryos at the end of the IVF process. Consider taking anti-oxidants through supplementation such as ubiquinol if you have age-related infertility and Myo-inositol if you have PCOS. Ask your naturopathic doctor for more information on a healthy diet and supplement routine tailored for your individual needs.

For more information on nutrition, supplementation, and egg quality, consider reading the chapter I wrote for the book written by Dr. Belej Rak, MD, entitled “Embrace Your Fertility: Empowering You With The Tools To Succeed.”

• Improve your insulin sensitivity and find out your methylation status

For women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) trying to conceive, increased clotting, inflammation, and insulin resistance are associated with miscarriage, ovulatory dysfunction, and lower egg quality.

Improving methylation status can increase the baby’s health during development by exposing them to less inflammation and insulin resistance. To learn more about this, click HERE to read “PCOS and MTHFR: Miscarriage, Insulin Resistance and Heart Health,” written by my wonderful and intelligent friend, Dr. Fiona McCulloch, ND.

• Address your stress levels

Stress itself is unlikely to cause a miscarriage, but it may impact egg quality before getting pregnant. Admittedly, there is a lot we don’t know about stress hormones and their impact on fertility and pregnancy. However, working on stress reduction will improve your general health through conception and pregnancy and make the journey an easier one. Once you’ve had one miscarriage, it can significantly increase anxiety and stress while you try again and worry about having another miscarriage.

The good news is one miscarriage definitely doesn’t guarantee another. The chance of you having a second miscarriage is relatively low, around 4%.

For your subsequent pregnancy, ensure you have stress management techniques in place. Try yoga, meditation, or acupuncture. Find a creative outlet like singing and dancing or engage in something as simple as deep breathing exercises. For myself, I wrote a lot of poetry, sang a lot of songs, danced until my feet hurt, worked out, and saw joy through my patients’ successful pregnancies.

Finding your tribe is also essential. I avoided people who didn’t understand how to support me while I grieved my losses or didn’t understand the infertility journey. Instead, I surrounded myself by friends who understood me and embraced my darkest secrets and sadness, allowing me to enjoy life to the fullest.