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Miscarriage frequently goes undiscussed in the broader culture, but it is not uncommon. It is estimated that between 10% and 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, but that number is likely higher in reality because miscarriage can take place in the earliest stages of gestation before the pregnancy is detected.

Miscarriages occur for a number of reasons. Understanding what happens medically when a pregnancy is lost may provide a measure of comfort and understanding to women and their families affected by miscarriage.

mother grieving miscarriage loss

What is a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week of gestation. The risk for miscarriage is greatest during the first trimester of pregnancy when the embryo is rapidly developing. After the 12th week of pregnancy, the chances of miscarriage decrease significantly.

Unfortunately, once a miscarriage has begun it cannot be stopped with medical intervention. However, if a woman thinks she may be having a miscarriage, it is crucial that she seek medical care to ensure her own health and safety.

An oophorectomy is a procedure involving the surgical removal of the ovaries. Oophorectomies treat serious gynecological conditions and diseases and are often done as part of a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or a salpingectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes). There are two types of oophorectomy: a bilateral oophorectomy removes both ovaries, and a unilateral oophorectomy removes one ovary. 

Why is an Oophorectomy Necessary?

The ovaries have a significant role in hormone production, so an oophorectomy is normally performed only when absolutely necessary to treat specific gynecological disorders or diseases.   

Gynecological conditions that may require a oophorectomy include:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Noncancerous ovarian tumors, cysts or abscess
  • Ovarian torsion (a twisted ovary)
  • A history of or genetic predisposition to certain types of ovarian and breast cancer

Life is inherently stressful. The pressures of work, the demands of maintaining important relationships, commitments that pull us in a thousand different directions, and the constant background noise of social media all conspire to stress us out. And add to that the intense stress of struggling with fertility issues. It’s a lot to handle! But can it prevent you from getting pregnant?

Couple Consulting Obstetrician About Fertility

Stress and Infertility

Infertility, especially if experienced for an extended amount of time, is a particularly heavy burden to bear. It is not only personally stressful but it can also put a lot of strain on couples who are enduring the struggle together. But are emotional and physical stress also contributing factors to infertility?

Bones are a living material. The body is constantly producing new tissue to replace bone that naturally breaks down. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the body’s ability to make new bone and maintain adequate bone density, and can cause significant bone loss over time. As a result of osteoporosis, bones become weak and brittle and are prone to breakages.

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 44 million have low bone density, which elevates their risk of developing the disease in the future. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but women are four times more likely to suffer from the condition than men. Women are at a greater risk for osteoporosis because female bones tend to be smaller and thinner, and because estrogen plays an important role in regulating bone mass. Genetic and environmental factors can also raise a person’s chances of developing osteoporosis. Caucasian and Asian women are statistically more likely to develop osteoporosis, as are people who have a family history of the disease. Menopausal women also have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis since lower hormone production naturally decreases bone production.
 
Additional factors that are not related to genetics, gender or age can also increase a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis. An inactive or sedentary lifestyle, high levels of alcohol consumption, and smoking tobacco products raises the likelihood of osteoporosis.

The influenza virus is a common but potentially dangerous illness and pregnant women are at a higher risk of contracting a severe case of the flu than the general population. Pregnancy naturally suppresses the immune system and stresses the heart and lungs in ways that cause pregnant women to be more susceptible to the flu, but a vaccine can safely protect women and babies from the illness and its complications.

Woman Getting Flu Vaccine During Pregnancy

Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. It plays a significant role in regulating many body functions, including ovulation, metabolism and immunity, but its primary purpose is to stimulate the mammary glands to begin milk production. Increased levels of the hormone is crucial to maintaining an adequate milk supply for nursing mothers.  When not nursing, however, an imbalance of prolactin can be evidence of a serious health condition requiring medical assessment and treatment.

Milk Production

During pregnancy, a woman’s body starts to produce higher than normal levels of prolactin. This hormonal increase causes the mammary glands to begin preparation for milk production, but elevated levels of the hormone progesterone prevent the breasts from lactating before birth. Progesterone production decreases shortly after giving birth as prolactin continues to increase, stimulated in part by the baby’s first attempts to suckle at the breast, and this allows the breasts to begin lactating.

Mother Breastfeeding Her Young Baby

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It is really quite incredible. Your body produces milk that has all the nutrition to sustain the healthy growth and crucial early development of your child in its first year of life, but there is more to nursing than simply providing food to your baby. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to nourish and bond with your baby while giving it a legacy of health advantages that will last into adulthood.

Breast Milk is Mother Nature’s Perfect Recipe

young-mother-breastfeeding-babyThe first milk that is produced immediately after birth is called colostrum, and it is colloquially known as “liquid gold” because it is so rich with the nutrients and antibodies that newborn babies need. Colostrum does not look like milk. It is a sticky, yellow serum and is only produced for the first few days of your child’s life, but its high concentration of essential nutrients is easier for your newborn’s immature digestive system to break down.

As your baby grows, your milk will change to suit its evolving needs. Colostrum transitions into a white, thin milk that becomes fattier and more nutritious as your baby’s appetite increases. For the first six months of life breast milk has absolutely everything your baby requires for sustaining the healthy growth, but it does much more than simply feed your baby. Breast milk supports complex brain development, helps build the immune system, and contributes incomparably to the development of a healthy gut biome. In the first several months after your baby is born, breast milk lays the foundation for a lifetime of health.

The United States Congress, in conjunction with the American Social Health Association (ASHA) and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month to increase public knowledge of cervical health and encourage women to get screened for cervical cancer and vaccinated against the diseases that cause it.

Teal Ribbon for Cervical Health Awareness Month in January

Cervical Health Facts

The cervix is a long, cylinder-shaped passage between the vagina and the uterus. It has two main parts, the cervix itself and the opening of the cervical canal known as the “endocervix.” The cervix is covered in squamous cells and the endocervix is covered in columnar cells. These different types of cells meet at a point between the vagina and the uterus known as the “transformational zone.” The transformational zone is the part of the cervix that is most susceptible to developing cancer.

A hysterectomy is a common surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus for reasons relating to certain gynecological disorders. According to the Center for Disease Control, hysterectomies are the second most frequently received surgery among women of reproductive age in the United States (the average age is 42) after cesarean sections, with nearly half a million women getting a hysterectomy in this country each year.

Hysterectomy Surgery & Recovery

There are several different types of hysterectomy and a variety of surgical options. Doctors determine the best type and method for each patient, based on the underlying medical condition precipitating the hysterectomy and the individual’s personal health history.

  • Total hysterectomy: The surgical removal of the entire uterus, to include removal of the cervix.
  • Supracervical hysterectomy: The partial removal of the uterus, but the cervix remains intact.
  • Radical hysterectomy: The removal of the entire uterus, including the cervix and the ligaments that hold the uterus in place. The ovaries may or may not be removed depending upon the specifics of each individual case.

During menopause the body stops producing the same levels of hormones that it has throughout the reproductive years. This hormonal decrease can result in unpleasant side effects such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and night sweats. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) treats these symptoms with medication that replace the hormones, typically estrogen and progesterone/progestin, that are no longer being produced naturally in the body throughout menopause. HRT is also often used an effective prevention against osteoporosis (bone thinning).  

Woman Considering HRT Options

An ectopic pregnancy is a serious complication of pregnancy that occurs when a fertilized embryo attaches outside of the uterus, most often in the fallopian tube. For this reason, it is sometimes also referred to as a “tubal pregnancy,” although in very rare cases an ectopic pregnancy can occur on the cervix, ovary, or elsewhere in the abdomen.

Ectopic pregnancies are a relatively uncommon condition that affects between 1% and 2% of women of reproductive age. Unfortunately, in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo is not viable since embryos cannot survive outside of the womb. If left untreated the condition can cause severe damage to reproductive organs and even become life-threatening.