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Most People Have Misconceptions About Miscarriages, Says Survey

An online survey was conducted among 1,084 American men and women 18 to 69 years of age, to assess what the general public knows about miscarriage along with its frequency and causes and how miscarriage affects them emotionally.

The result of the study was published online this May 2015 in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

55 percent of survey takers thought that miscarriages were rare, occurring in less than five percent of pregnancies, but the truth is miscarriages actually occur in approximately one in four pregnancies as it is the most frequent of pregnancy complications.

The study's lead researcher, Dr. Zev Williams, M.D., Ph.D., reproductive endocrinologist and the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss' director at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in New York City, and co-authors posted a 33-item survey using Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk Web service with 10 items particularly focused on women or men reporting a history of miscarriage.

22 percent wrongly assumed that taking drugs or drinking alcohol or smoking were the primary causes of miscarriage, when in fact these lifestyle choices are only contributing factors. In reality, three out of five miscarriages are triggered by a genetic problem — abnormal chromosomes. Some known reasons include autoimmune disorders such as anti-thyroid antibodies, structural abnormalities of the uterus and endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism.

Survey takers mistakenly thought that long-term stress (74 percent) or stressful events (76 percent) could induce miscarriage. Some of the incorrect assumptions about miscarriage included getting into an argument (21 percent), history of oral contraceptives (22 percent) or IUD uses (28 percent) and lifting heavy objects (64 percent).

As the Mayo Clinic clarifies, miscarriages are nearly always associated with genetic mutations or medical conditions that arise suddenly and not through the fault of either parent.

An overwhelming majority (88 percent) of the people would want to know the reason of a miscarriage to prevent a future miscarriage and 78 percent would want to identify the reason even if nothing could be done to stop the miscarriage in the future.

By creating a secure, educational space to discuss the facts of miscarriage, the authors conclude that health providers can better offer the support and care that many women might need. It seems that for the rest of us, specifically men, taking the chance to step out of the shadows and educate ourselves might create a better and fruitful conversation about women's bodies.

Photo: George Ruiz | Flickr

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