October is Pregnancy loss awareness month.
A lot of patients who come to taproot have already been on a long and strenuous fertility journey, trying to conceive on their own or through IVF.
Often times, pregnancy losses are part of this difficult journey.
Repeat Pregnancy Loss (RPL) is medically defined as 3 or more losses that occur after the pregnancy has been confirmed.
Each loss is traumatic, especially when we do not know why it happens. Many women feel alone, when this is actually extremely common.
A majority of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. 3 or more miscarriages indicate other contributing factors.
What contributes to repeated pregnancy loss ?
A thorough medical evaluation is essential
While an official diagnosis of Repeat Pregnancy Loss requires at least 3 losses, we recommend to get a complete work-up after only 2 miscarriages. Especially for women over 35 years old, if you have been trying to conceive for more than a year.
At taproot, we invite all our patients to have comprehensive testing done by a doctor so our fertility acupuncturist, who is knowledgeable about the many causes of pregnancy loss, can properly evaluate the results, & recommend effective treatment options.
1. Embryo quality issues
Most miscarriages are thought to come from chromosomal abnormalities in embryos. This means that the DNA was not working properly. DNA issues may come from the egg or the sperm.
Sperm quality issues
Beyond quantity and motility, sperm need to have healthy DNA.
As a man ages the DNA in his sperm becomes more prone to damage. General sperm analysis might look great, yet upon more in-depth look the DNA is abnormal.
A workup should be done through either a urologist or an IVF clinic.
Read about what acupuncture can do for male fertility !
Egg quality issues
As you get older, the follicle maturation process becomes more fragile. The release of a good quality mature egg takes 3-4 months, during which a lot of hormones have an impact. Life habits such as drinking alcohol and caffeine also play a role in egg quality.
A blood test should be done on cycle day 2 or 3, for the following hormones:
FSH – follicle stimulating hormone
AMH – anti-Mullerian hormone
LH – luteinizing hormone
Prolactin – prolactin
All of taproot acupuncture's fertility patients are put on a special egg quality diet and protocol, to improve their chances each cycle.
2. Thin uterine lining
If the uterine lining is too thin the embryo will not have enough soil in which to grow roots.
If implantation occurs, the placenta might ultimately not be able to support the proper development of the fetus.
The uterine lining is visible via ultrasound, & preferably measured within a few days of ovulation.
The lining may be too thin for a variety of reasons:
poor nutrition leading to insufficient blood production
poor blood flow to the uterus
Acupuncture and herbs are wonderful at building up uterine lining and regulating blood circulation.
3. Structural issues with the uterus
The uterus may have abnormalities that will impede healthy uterine lining, and result in the improper development of a placenta. Structural issues might include:
Diagnosis is done via imaging, including an ultrasound, saline sonogram, or a hystero-salpingogram (HSG).
4. Abnormal thyroid levels
Thyroid hormones are needed to support a healthy pregnancy, and low levels of thyroid hormone, or hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's) can lead to early miscarriage.
Often thyroid issues go undiagnosed as the standard screening of thyroid hormones, typically just includes a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which can look normal.
A more comprehensive thyroid panel will offer better insight into a thyroid issue:
TSH – thyroid stimulating hormone
TPO Ab – Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
TG Ab – Thyroglobulin Antibodies
5. Blood clotting issues
Blood clotting issues can impact proper blood flow to the baby, cause intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), or even fetal death and miscarriage. Blood clots are also potentially very dangerous for the pregnant mom.
If properly diagnosed by a specialist, blood clotting issues can be effectively treated.
6. Autoimmune diseases
The immune system plays a vital role in allowing an embryo to stay put in the uterus, and an autoimmune disease can disrupt a healthy pregnancy. Conditions thought to have an autoimmune component include:
Premature Ovarian Insufficiency
Type 1 diabetes
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Diagnosis is typically done via blood testing. The most effective approach for managing autoimmune disorders is an integration between conventional health care, and holistic medicine.
A healthy pregnancy is possible
Once the root cause of Repeat Pregnancy Loss is identified, it can usually be resolved , so that you may go on to have a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
Treatments range from surgery & prescription medication, which are outside of our scope of practice, to acupuncture, herbs and nutritional approaches.
Research on acupuncture and miscarriage is very promising
One recent study on acupuncture done along with IVF showed a 50% decrease in the miscarriage rate.
Another study suggests acupuncture may even be a potential supportive treatment for threatened or recurrent miscarriages due to its beneficial effects on serum cortisol and prolactin levels during IVF.
According this same study, it is possible that stress in very early pregnancy may cause overactivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis leading to reduced progesterone levels. In reducing this stress, progesterone levels may stay higher.
No matter where you are in your
if you need support, we can help.
In addition to our own team of fertility & women's health acupuncturists, we are well-connected within the Los Angeles- Pasadena area community to help you find the right integrative and holistic care for you.
If you have more questions please call our front desk, at 626-841-2991, or email us.