Age-Related Miscarriage

Miscarriage, also referred to as spontaneous abortion, is the unintended loss of a fetus prior to the 20th completed week of pregnancy. Unfortunately, the risk of miscarriage does increase considerably as women get older. Experts believe this can in part be attributed to the fact that as women get older they are more likely to have fetuses with chromosomal abnormalities, and these fetuses often spontaneously abort. Some chromosomal abnormalities can result in a living child so it is important to understand the age-related risk of having a child with a chromosomal abnormality. A genetic counselor can help you understand those risks.

Here are some general statistics couples should keep in mind regarding age-related pregnancy loss. While these stats are useful for comparison purposes, they may not reflect a specific couple's own exact risk of miscarrying:

  • About 10–20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage

For women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technologies:

  • Women aged 35 or younger have a less than 14% chance of miscarriage
  • Women by age 40 have an over 29% risk of miscarriage
  • Women closer to age 45 have over a 60% risk of miscarriage

If a woman does miscarry, a dilation and curettage (D&C) may be needed to be sure that the miscarriage was complete and no tissue from the uterine lining was left in the uterus. Removing any left over tissue helps to reduce the chances of infection and heavy bleeding.

It's very normal for couples to have feelings of profound loss and anger after having a miscarriage. The ups and downs of starting infertility treatment all over again and whether or not they will be able to get pregnant again can be all-consuming.

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