New Study Finds a Very Simple Remedy for Pregnancy Loss
If you've ever experienced a pregnancy loss, you know how hard it can be to search for answers about why the loss happened. Some women might be able to find out why a loss occurred, from medical conditions to genetic issues with the embryo, but other women may never get the answers that they hope for.
I have had two back-to-back miscarriages and unfortunately, I have no idea why they happened. According to my midwife, there was nothing that was obviously wrong with either pregnancy, so the miscarriages were simply something that happened as “one of those things.” On one hand, I find some small comfort in knowing that nothing was majorly wrong at first glance. But on the other hand, part of me wishes I had more concrete answers.
A lot of women who have recurrent miscarriages, unfortunately, are in the same boat as I am: Without answers. In fact, one study found that although only 1% of women experience recurrent miscarriages, which is defined as having 3 or more miscarriages, 50% of those women do not have answers about why those miscarriages occur.
One theory that has gained more attention is that recurrent miscarriages may actually be caused by a woman's own body. The theory is that the woman's autoimmune system literally rejects the pregnancy for some unknown reason. And while the theory can sound somewhat alarming – because what could be worse than thinking that it's your own body that's the cause for the miscarriage? – it also comes with a sort of game plan. Because once doctors know what the cause behind a miscarriage is, they can help to find a solution to try to prevent it from happening.
Which is exactly what a new study sought to do. And the answer to possibly preventing pregnancy loss is a lot more simple and a lot more surprising than you might think. The answer?
According to a study in the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, the Vitamin D produced in the body through sunlight might play a huge role in the immune response in a woman's body. As the study explained, “Vitamin D has been shown to promote a more favorable environment for pregnancy through various mechanisms, such as enhancement of the shift toward Th2 cells and regulation of immune cell differentiation and cytokine secretion.” Or, in other words, Vitamin D might play a role in helping a woman to stay pregnant if her body is prone to seeing pregnancy as a threat to her immune system.
So, what does this study mean in practical terms? Do you need to lay out like the days of your youth, trying to get as tanned as possible? Um, no, please don't. By all means, you should get your Vitamin D outside in small doses, with adequate sunscreen, because it's good for your mental and physical health, but you shouldn't rely on sitting outside as a strategy for staying pregnant.
Instead, if you have experienced three or more pregnancy losses and especially if those losses can't be explained, you should work with a doctor or specialist who can help you further investigate what could be causing the losses. You may not get the answers you hope for, but at the very least, you can rest assured that you have tried all avenues. Talk to your doctor about all possible screening and blood tests that might be helpful, including having your Vitamin D levels checked.
Vitamin D deficiencies are actually incredibly common in adults, even when they are not pregnant. Our modern-day lifestyle of being mostly indoors has a lot to do with the rise in Vitamin D deficiencies, as well as poor diets, so more doctors are aware that the condition is common. Nonetheless, be sure to request the test from your doctor and if you are deficient he or she may be able to prescribe Vitamin D supplementation that could help. For true Vitamin D deficiencies, a little bit of sunlight will not be enough to get your levels up and you will need to take oral Vitamin D instead.
One study can't prove that recurrent miscarriages are caused by a lack of Vitamin D, but if a simple Vitamin D test and supplementation might help prevent a pregnancy loss, it's definitely worth looking into.