Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, reproductive healthcare concerns (and, oftentimes, misconceptions) have been flooding the news—in particular about miscarriage. With that in mind, we reached out to James Grifo, MD, PhD, Program Director at the NYU Langone Prelude Fertility Center and Chief Executive Physician at Inception Fertility, to clear up eight myths about miscarriage—and why it's important to get the facts right.
8 Myths About Miscarriage to Stop Believing (Particularly in a Post-Roe World)
1. Myth: Miscarriage Is Rare
“Experiencing a pregnancy loss can be isolating, but it isn’t a rare occurrence,” Dr. Grifo tells us. Especially because miscarriages can happen before someone even knows they’re pregnancy, meaning we don’t really know the exact number. A suitable estimate, he notes, is that as many of half of all pregnancies overall may end in miscarriage. “For those who do know they are pregnant, approximately ten to 15 percent miscarry, with a majority of those happening during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.”
2. Myth: The Cause of a Miscarriage Is Always Known and Preventable
You might’ve heard that exercising too much or being too stressed or drinking too much coffee can cause a miscarriage, but Dr. Grifo emphasizes that that’s not the case, explaining that there are a host of reasons why pregnancy loss may occur, including:
- A chromosomal abnormality. Per Dr. Grifo, this is the cause of about half of all miscarriages.
- Medical conditions of the uterus. Including a septate uterus where a band of muscle or tissue divides the uterus)
- Scar tissue.
- Lifestyle factors.
3. Myth: Miscarriage Only Affects Women
“While women take the brunt of the physical and emotional pain associated with a pregnancy loss, men too experience trauma due to miscarriages,” Dr. Grifo tells us, adding that he’s seen in his own practice how hard pregnancy loss can be on anyone, regardless of gender.
4. Myth: If There Was a Miscarriage, the Pregnant Person Caused It
No matter how much you may rationally know a miscarriage isn’t your fault, Dr. Grifo says that guilt is still a common feeling. As mentioned earlier, there are tons of different reasons a person can lose a pregnancy, and he tells us, “It’s important to remove this idea of fault as it relates to miscarriage and infertility, especially for women.”
5. Myth: Using Birth Control Prior to Pregnancy Causes Miscarriage
“Birth control does not cause miscarriage,” Dr. Grifo plainly states, adding, “Believing otherwise adds to the guilt that so many women feel when they experience a loss.” Again, what does cause a miscarriage is generally out of a person’s control.
6. Myth: Vaccinations Cause Miscarriages
This is another big no. Per Dr. Grifo, “No, vaccines do not cause miscarriages, and the science proves this.” Still, he notes that it’s important that, if you’re pregnant, you have a conversation with your OB/GYN to discuss any concerns about vaccination during pregnancy and understand the benefits/risks of vaccination to the health of the mother and baby.
7. Myth: Miscarriage Always Require Medical Intervention
In reality, miscarriages don’t always require medical intervention. Dr. Grifo tells us, “Oftentimes, Mother Nature takes over, and a woman’s body will dispel of the pregnancy on its own.” Sometimes, however, medical assistance is needed to help remove the pregnancy. “The most common one is a dilation and curettage (D&C), a procedure that removes the tissue from the body.”
8. Myth: If Miscarriage Is So Common, Then It's Not a Big Deal
“While miscarriages are common, it remains an isolating, traumatic experience for each person that experiences one,” Dr. Grifo explains. “Furthermore, recurrent miscarriages can mean that there is a physical condition or genetic issue that is causing the miscarriage. This can indeed be a big deal because without proper treatment or testing, these losses can continue.” Basically, just because miscarriage isn’t rare doesn’t invalidate how devastating it can feel for the individual and family involved.