Women who have experienced more psychological stress might be at greater risk of having a miscarriage, according to a review of studies. Researchers from universities in the United Kingdom and China found that women who reported a history of these emotionally taxing experiences increased their risk of miscarriage by up to 42 percent.
For the review, the team included eight studies that included participants who had, and had not, experienced psychological stress. They found that women who had a history of being stressed about money, marital dissatisfaction, work pressures or other psychological stressors were more likely to suffer from a miscarriage. While they could not determine the reason, the study authors believe stress hormones could harm the biochemical pathways that help women’s bodies maintain healthy pregnancies.
“While chromosomal abnormalities underlie many cases of early pregnancy loss, the results of this meta-analysis support the belief that a high level of psychological stress before and during pregnancy is also associated with miscarriage, the present results show that these psychological factors could increase the risk by approximately 42 percent,” said study co-author Dr. Brenda Todd of City, University of London.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) explains that roughly half of all miscarriages are random and occur because the embryo does not have the typical number of chromosomes. This does not allow the fetus to develop normally, which can cause the early loss.
Some women may worry they did something to cause the miscarriage, like working out or having sex, but this isn’t usually the case, according to the ACOG. Cigarettes and alcohol may increase risk, but the research is inconclusive. Age does appear to be a factor, as the likelihood of experiencing a miscarriage is higher for women 40 years and older.
When someone has had more than one or two miscarriages (recurrent miscarriage or recurrent pregnancy loss), it’s time for an evaluation to determine if there is treatable cause like one of the parents carrying a balanced chromosomal abnormality or a hormonal problem. All the physicians at Reproductive Partners are experts in evaluating and treating recurrent miscarriage.