What is Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL)?
When researching information on recurrent pregnancy loss you will most certainly come across a few definitions. The differing definitions causes confusion among patients and puts added stress on an already difficult topic of discussion. Most major health organizations such as the American College of OB/GYNs (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) define recurrent pregnancy loss as two or more consecutive miscarriages (before the pregnancies reach 20 weeks) with the same partner. It is important to note that biochemical pregnancy losses are not usually included when diagnosing recurrent pregnancy loss. A biochemical pregnancy is when an ultrasound would not show any evidence of pregnancy, but a blood or urine test would. A biochemical pregnancy loss occurs in the early stages of pregnancy.
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Infertility
The likelihood of having a successful pregnancy for women who have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss is relatively high. Women suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss have a 60%-80% chance of becoming pregnant and carrying a full-term pregnancy. This is because the majority of all miscarriages are due to random chromosomal abnormalities of the embryo that typically do not recur.
Treatment for recurrent pregnancy loss is based on the underlying cause of the miscarriages. There are a variety of reasons why a woman may have multiple miscarriages. Recurrent pregnancy loss may be caused by genetic, anatomic, lifestyle/environmental, and/or medical issues. Even with a thorough evaluation, recurrent pregnancy loss cannot be determined in ~50% of women.
Overcoming recurrent pregnancy loss is a difficult situation for both patients and medical providers. It is important that patients suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss work with a fertility specialist that is well versed in this condition and is supportive of their emotional needs.