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Dispelling Myths: Common Causes of Miscarriage

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When a pregnancy ends unexpectedly, it can be a difficult experience. In a national survey published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, individuals who had experienced a miscarriage often reported guilt, loneliness, and the feeling that they’d done something wrong to cause it.1 These feelings may be fueled by a general lack of awareness of how common miscarriages are and what causes them. Here we break down misconceptions about miscarriages that can make it more difficult to work through a loss.

Miscarriage can
leave you in the dark.

Common misconceptions can
make it difficult to process a loss.
believe miscarriages
are uncommon1.
1 IN 4
pregnancies end in
Clarifying misconceptions can help
ease your emotional burden.
believe that stress can
cause a miscarriage1.
of miscarriages are
caused by chromosomal abnormalities3.
You did not cause your miscarriage.
of people want to
the cause
of a
miscarriage even if it could not be prevented1.
Learning the true cause can
help you move forward.
The Anora Miscarriage Test determines if chromosomal abnormalities caused
pregnancy loss.
Learn more and
request a test kit.
1. Bardos, Jonah et al. “A national survey on public perceptions of miscarriage.” Obstetrics and gynecology vol. 125,6 (2015): 1313-1320. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000000859

2. Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. “Evaluation and treatment of recurrent pregnancy loss: a committee opinion.” Fertility and sterility vol. 98,5 (2012): 1103-11. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.06.048

3. Hyde, Kassie J, and Danny J Schust. “Genetic considerations in recurrent pregnancy loss.” Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine vol. 5,3 a023119. 6 Feb. 2015, doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a023119

Pregnancy Loss Is Not Uncommon

There are many misconceptions about miscarriages—one of the most prominent and potentially hurtful myths is that pregnancy loss is uncommon. In the survey, 55% of people reported that they believed miscarriages to be uncommon, stating that they occurred in less than 5% of all pregnancies.1 However, miscarriages are very common. It is estimated that up to 70% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.2 Up to 25% of known pregnancies are lost in the first trimester.3 First trimester miscarriages account for 99% of all pregnancy losses.4

If you’ve had a miscarriage, it is unlikely to happen again. Less than 5% of people experience two consecutive pregnancy losses.3

Your Everyday Activities Aren’t to Blame

Another harmful, but common, myth about miscarriage is that it can be caused by stress, physical activity, or even a bad argument. In the survey, 76% of respondents said that stress caused miscarriages and 64% said lifting heavy objects could cause pregnancy loss.1 However, these activities and other common scapegoats like depression, exercise, sex, spicy food, or travel have not been demonstrated to cause miscarriage in otherwise healthy pregnancies.5 In most cases, you did nothing wrong—the cause of your miscarriage was likely out of your control and not something you could have prevented.

Causes of miscarriage include:5

  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Problems with the placenta, uterus, or cervix
  • Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, hormonal imbalances, or autoimmune disorders
  • Infectious diseases, such as rubella or an untreated STD (sexually transmitted disease)
  • Serious bodily injury
  • Exposure to toxins, such as lead, pesticides, or certain medications, or heavy drug or alcohol abuse, and cigarette smoking,
  • Food poisoning with listeriosis, salmonella, or toxoplasmosis

The Most Common Cause

The most common cause of miscarriage is chromosomal abnormalities.3 Over 50% of all miscarriages are the result of problems with a fetus’s chromosomes—the structures that house our DNA and control how the body grows and functions.3 Sometimes errors happen when sperm or egg cells form that lead to too many or too few chromosomes, or chromosomes with missing or extra pieces. Most of these chromosomal abnormalities make it impossible for a fetus to develop past the first trimester, regardless of how well a pregnant person takes care of themself. The majority of chromosomal abnormalities happen by chance and are highly unlikely to repeat in the future.

You Can Get Answers

Often miscarriage feels shrouded in mystery, but survey findings suggest that the majority of people want answers. 88% of survey respondents indicated they would want to know what caused a miscarriage if they could avoid another loss in the future. 78% said they would want to know the cause even if there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the loss.1

When a person who has experienced a miscarriage learns the cause, it can help reduce emotional burden as they move forward. When a specific reason for miscarriage was given, people were less likely to feel that they had done something wrong to cause the miscarriage.1 Finding answers can help ease self-blame so you can move forward.

The Anora Miscarriage Test can help families find answers. Anora is the most comprehensive test available to determine if chromosomal abnormalities caused a pregnancy loss. Using a tissue sample from your miscarriage, Anora helps doctors determine whether additional testing or medical care is needed. Tissue samples can be collected at home, at your doctor’s office, or from paraffin-preserved samples from a past miscarriage.

Visit to learn more about Anora.

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1Bardos et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2015; 125(6): 1313-20.

2Hyde and Schust. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2015;5(3):a023119.

3Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Fertil Steril. 2012;98(5):1103-11.

4Mukherjee et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2013; 177(11):1271-8.

5 Accessed September 2021.

*Anora has been developed and its performance characteristics determined by the CLIA-certified laboratory performing the test. The test has not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). CAP accredited, ISO 13485 certified, and CLIA certified. © 2021 Natera, Inc. All Rights Reserved.