Miscarriage is one of the few truly personal things that is actually terribly common and yet still not discussed in the open. Lately it seems like that's changing. More and more celebrities and popular figures are discussing their experiences with miscarriage and the very real grief that can accompany it. The thing is, most of the time no one knows how or why they miscarried, only that it happened and that it was physically and emotionally painful. Are there specific triggers or a timeline for the possibility of termination, though? Does your risk of miscarriage decrease each week, or is it stable throughout?
For the most part, the risk of miscarriage decreases bit by bit until week 13. The first few weeks, before you may even be aware that you're pregnant, you're in the period where the risk of spontaneous abortion is the highest at around 75 percent, according to New Kids Center. Miscarriage early in the pregnancy is almost always some sort of chromosomal issue and not an anatomical problem with the mother, although the mother's and father's age may contribute to a higher risk of pregnancy loss than women and men of a younger age at the time of conception.
I spoke with genetic research assistant and PhD candidate Evangeline Tilley of Columbus, Ohio, and she tells Romper "Miscarriage feels like a roll of the dice. Every time you get pregnant, there's a significant chance your body will reject that zygote or embryo, and there isn't a lot you can do about it. Research shows that age of the mother and the age of the sperm play a significant role in the risk of a spontaneous termination, but everyone is on level ground after the first trimester comes to a close." Tilley notes that the risks of miscarriage are highest for women over 40, but start jumping by leaps and bounds after age 35. "The age of the sperm is also very important. Science and popular culture tends to throw all the weight behind the woman in the act of a miscarriage, but sperm ages in much the same way as eggs, and science is now looking at that more than ever."
Tilley explains that the risk of miscarriage decreases sharply after week six for women under 35, when it goes from 75 percent to 10 percent, and then if you make it to week 12, it drops for everyone to around 5 to 7 percent, but it never drops lower than that. "At week 12 or 13, it becomes less about the possible chromosomal issues, and more about the gestational carrier. There are always risks inherent to pregnancy, and those are reflected in the miscarriage and preterm birth statistics."
"There are other factors we look at when determining risk of miscarriage," she adds. "Things like maternal health — like whether or not the mother is obese or has diabetes — drug use, if they're vaccinated, or if they've had access to pre-pregnancy counseling and health care." She reports that data suggests that healthcare access is one of the biggest crises affecting the viability of pregnancies today. "If you can't get a flu shot or dental cleaning, or you haven't seen a doctor in years, you're more likely to have a miscarriage due to health-related concerns than women with access to routine medical care."
The risks of miscarriage decrease each week, but it never goes away completely. However, after week 12, it's really a very small chance, and it's completely understandable to feel a great sense of relief. I know I did after my first trimester.
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