In the UK, the term ‘recurrent miscarriage’ means having three or more miscarriages, whether they happen one after the other or whether you have a healthy pregnancy or pregnancies in between*. It affects around one in every hundred couples trying for a baby.
If you have had recurrent miscarriage, you should be offered tests to see if there is an underlying cause or causes for your losses.
* This is the definition as of June 2023. Previously, recurrent miscarriages meant three or more miscarriages in a row. See our blog post for more information.
The experience of recurrent miscarriage can be extremely distressing. Each new pregnancy may bring both hope and anxiety, and each new loss may be harder and harder to bear.
It’s scary to get a positive pregnancy test result now, because I might have to go through the loss and grief all over again.
You are likely to want and need answers: Why is this happening? Is it something I did? Is there anything that can be done to stop it happening again? If there are no clear answers, you may wonder if you will ever have a baby, or another baby.
Whatever your circumstances, we hope that these pages and links help a little at what might be a very difficult time. And while we generally use ‘you’ to address the person who has physically gone through these losses, we hope this resource will also offer support to partners and to anyone else affected, including family members and friends.
We also sometimes use the term ‘woman’ or ‘women’, but recognise that the person who has experienced the physical loss may not identify as such.
On the pages that follow, we’ll talk about:
But in brief:
In most cases, you will be offered tests to investigate your losses only after you have had three miscarriages. However, in some cases, you might be offered tests after two early miscarriages. You should always be offered at least some investigations if your baby died after 13 or 14 weeks of pregnancy. You’ll find information about second trimester loss (late miscarriage) here.
Answers – or not
It’s important to know that having tests does not necessarily mean that a cause or causes will be found. About half of the couples who have investigations don’t come out with any clear reason for their miscarriages. This can be very frustrating, but it is also positive news because it means that there is a good chance of the next pregnancy being successful, without any treatment at all.
If a problem is identified, there may still be a good chance of having a successful pregnancy. This will depend on what is found and whether there is any treatment to reduce the risk next time. For example:
- Some miscarriages are caused by chance (e.g. a chromosome abnormality in the baby) and cannot be predicted or prevented. Fortunately, they are not very likely to happen again.
- Some causes of miscarriage cannot be treated because there is no way of changing the basic problem (e.g. a problem with the parents’ chromosomes), but parents may be advised to consider other options (like using donor eggs or sperm).
When there are no answers
It can be very difficult to cope with not knowing why you have had repeated miscarriages and you may well not accept that there aren’t any answers. You might see stories in the media about a new treatment for miscarriage and there’s also a great deal of information on the internet about miscarriage causes and treatments. It can be hard to know what to trust as many investigations and treatments which are reported have not been properly studied or assessed.
Research into recurrent miscarriage
Information on the causes and treatment of miscarriage doesn’t stand still and you might want to find out about research that is being done. There may be clinical trials taking place locally that you can take part in – something that many women find to be a positive experience. We report on recent and current trials here.
Your emotions – and finding support
We know that going through miscarriage after miscarriage can be devastating. We talk more about the emotional impact of recurrent loss here.
Our helpline staff aim to offer support, information and a listening ear, and you might also find it helpful to join our online forum, which has a section for people with recurrent loss. You’ll find more information about how we and others can help here.
We talk about causes of recurrent miscarriage here.