Miscarriage: separating fact from fiction

Do you think miscarriages are rare? You’re not alone. Most people think that—and they are wrong.

Misconceptions about miscarriages are common, according to a survey of 1,000 adults. Those mistaken beliefs can make miscarriage even more painful for those who suffer one.

The findings, published in the June 2015 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also revealed that many people thought a miscarriage could occur for reasons that in fact have no effect at all. Three out of four respondents thought stress could cause one; two in three thought lifting heavy objects could be to blame; and one in five believed past sexually transmitted infections, past abortions, past use of birth control, getting into an argument or not wanting the pregnancy could cause miscarriage. None of these are causes. Genetic or medical problems are the root cause of miscarriage.

“A striking finding from the study is the discrepancy between what medicine and science teach us about miscarriage and what people believe,” said study co-author Zev Williams, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “Miscarriage seems to be unique in medicine in being very common yet rarely discussed, so that you have many women and couples feeling very isolated and alone.”

Among the study subjects who had a past miscarriage, nearly half said they felt guilty, 41 percent believed they did something wrong, 41 percent felt alone and 28 percent felt ashamed. More than one-third thought they could have prevented the miscarriage, even though that is rarely possible.

Don’t let mistaken beliefs affect your understanding of miscarriage. Get the facts from your doctor. And please share your feelings about this difficult subject below.

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