There are a lot of miscarriage myths out there and many women who experience a loss of pregnancy often put the blame squarely on their own shoulders. We know this is not the case. Miscarriages are more common than most people realize and the vast majority are caused by chromosomal abnormalities and not by what a woman did. That’s why we surveyed more than 2,000 women to learn even more about the common beliefs surrounding miscarriage and what we can all do to help shed the stigma.
In our survey, we found that common miscarriage myths and misinformation persist among women and their healthcare providers. Nearly 70 percent of women who miscarried erroneously believe “stress” caused pregnancy loss, and more than a quarter blame selves for miscarriage.
Despite the fact that miscarriages are common and the majority of them are the result of chromosomal abnormalities, nearly 70 percent of women who’ve had a miscarriage believe that “stress” caused them to lose the pregnancy, and more than a quarter (27%) of them believe they “may have done something to cause it.”
While it’s been proven, consistently, for decades now that miscarriages are not caused by day-to-day stress, intense exercise, lifting heavy objects or even a history of abortion, these are all common miscarriage myths women still believe about how they may have somehow contributed to the loss of a pregnancy. The result of these persistent fallacies is a lot of unnecessary guilt and suffering for women today.
We also discovered that many women are not aware of how common miscarriages actually are. While current stats show about 20-30 percent of all pregnancies result in miscarriage, less than half (43%) accurately estimated the correct miscarriage rate. In fact, more than a quarter of women polled (28%) said they believed miscarriage was less common than that, while 30 percent actually overestimated the miscarriage rate.
Healthcare Providers Spreading Misinformation and Not Providing Needed Support
Our findings also showed that many healthcare providers also may not be doing enough to support women following a miscarriage, even in providing accurate guidance about how long to wait before trying to conceive again. About a quarter of women reported that a doctor told them to “wait several months or more” before trying to conceive again – despite the fact medical research shows it’s fine for the majority of women to try again within the first cycle following a miscarriage. The only exception to this is for women whose miscarriage involved surgical intervention like a D&C, when a doctor will likely ask her to wait a few cycles to allow the cervix to close and the uterine lining to heal.
Additionally, 32 percent said they were “not satisfied with the care they received from their doctor when they miscarried,” and about a quarter of the women covered by medical insurance said they still had miscarriage-related out-of-pocket expenses of more than $500. At the same time, 29 percent of women said they had experienced “severe pain,” and 41 percent bled from 1-2 weeks or more after their miscarriage.
The fact that doctors are still giving women inaccurate advice regarding the length of time to wait following a miscarriage to try again, is particularly unfortunate given 67 percent of those we surveyed said they’re eager to ‘try again right away’ to get pregnant. Even worse, this advice may be hurting women’s chances of conceiving another healthy pregnancy. According to a 2010 BMJ study, women who conceive within the first six months after a miscarriage are less likely to have a subsequent miscarriage.