Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL)

Definition - What does Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) mean?

Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is the loss of two or more consecutive pregnancies. A pregnancy loss is defined as an ultrasound-verified pregnancy, called a “clinical pregnancy,” which ends involuntarily prior to 20 weeks gestation.

Recurrent pregnancy loss is also called habitual abortion or recurrent miscarriage.

FertilitySmarts explains Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL)

There are several reasons a woman might experience RPL:

  • Genetic issues, causing abnormal chromosome development
  • Anatomic development abnormalities, such as a misshaped uterus, or the presence of fibroids, growths in the uterus, which prevent a fetus from developing properly
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, thyroid diseases, or infectious diseases
  • Lifestyle or environmental factors, such as smoking, high body mass index (BMI), drug use, and caffeine or alcohol intake
  • Unexplained RPL, in which no definitive cause is diagnosed. This accounts for 30-50% of RPL cases

To diagnose the cause of RPL, blood tests and genetic screening, called a karyotype, are informative ways to uncover underlying medical or genetic complications. X-rays and ultrasounds of the pelvic area may show if anatomic abnormalities exist. A male partner may provide a sperm sample to be tested for DNA fragmentation or other complications of the sperm that may cause RPL. Additionally, collection and analysis of fetal tissue may indicate whether or not genetic disorders are present.

Treatment for women experiencing RPL varies based on the cause, and can include medication, lifestyle changes, or assisted reproductive technologies. However, the chance of conception post treatment is high, between 70-80% of women who experience RPL are able to eventually conceive successful pregnancies.


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