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Tests & treatments

After a miscarriage, it’s understandable that you want to know why it happened and what might be done to stop it happening again.

However, if this is your first or second miscarriage – or if you have had a mix of miscarriages and healthy pregnancies – you probably won’t be offered tests or treatment.

This can be frustrating and upsetting. You might feel that no-one is taking your losses seriously.  The reason for this policy, though, is because most women who have one or two miscarriages will go on to have a successful pregnancy next time. This suggests that their miscarriages were due to chance rather than to an underlying cause.

If you’ve had three miscarriages or more in a row (the definition of recurrent miscarriage), you should be offered tests.  That’s because a cause is more likely to be found at this stage.  You may also be offered tests after a second trimester loss or after two miscarriages if it has taken you a long time to conceive.

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 finding of why they miscarried. Again, this can be 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.

There is more information about tests and treatments in this leaflet.

Treatments

There is no single treatment that can prevent every kind of miscarriage, just as there is no single cause of miscarriage. But some treatments have been shown to improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy in particular cases. And there are also some general guidelines about reducing the risk of miscarriage.

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 as 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).

But in many cases, couples have no idea why they have miscarried, so there is no treatment to recommend.

This can feel frustrating, especially since every now and again, there is a story in the press about a new treatment for miscarriage. There’s also a great deal of information on the Internet about miscarriage causes and treatments. The problem is that it can be difficult to know how accurate this information is, as many investigations and treatments which are reported have not been properly studied or assessed. So while some treatments might be useful in some cases, they may not be suitable for you. Others may not be effective, or they may even be harmful.

If you have any questions or doubts about what you have read or heard, you might like to:

Research

You may be interested in learning about research that is being done into the causes, treatment and possible prevention of miscarriage.  There may be clinical trials taking place that you can take part in – something that some women find to be a positive experience.