A respected industry leader, Dr. Gocial is passionate about the latest developments in fertility and has guided many couples along their path to parenthood. His esteemed career has focused for decades in this area and he has extensive experience in all aspects of fertility. During this discussion, he offers his perspective about recurrent pregnancy loss and shares his professional advice on how couples can navigate the often-tumultuous road to conception.
Q. What is recurrent (or repeated) pregnancy loss?
A. There has been a lot of research conducted over the years with many new developments, but the clinical definition is still the same: Three consecutive pregnancy losses with no explanation as to why it continues to happen. But that’s a rather stringent explanation – because a woman who has two miscarriages does not want to go through a third before seeking medical help. It’s important to know that pregnancy loss is distinctly different than infertility. With pregnancy loss, the patient does get pregnant, but then has a miscarriage. It’s a different emotional trauma than infertility — and they are both devastating.
Q. How often does pregnancy loss occur?
A. Recurrent pregnancy loss occurs more often than people may realize. A woman who has conceived has a 12 to 15 percent chance of this happening. It’s relatively low, but higher than most couples may think. It is always traumatic, especially when it happens more than once. In my opinion, most physicians don’t want to wait until a patient has three miscarriages. And most patients don’t want to wait either.
Q. Are there known causes for repeated pregnancy loss?
A. There are several multiple potential reasons for this issue, and a patient should undergo a series of tests. If you are experiencing this problem, it’s essential to begin the evaluation as soon as possible.
Q. What types of tests are involved in a typical evaluation?
A. There’s not one type of treatment for everyone, but there is a specific series of tests for repeated miscarriages. These may include the evaluation of the uterus to check for abnormalities, as well as blood tests, and an ultra-sound to determine if the patient is producing a healthy egg. It may also be necessary to test for blood clotting disorders and evaluate the immune system.
Q. What questions should patients ask when seeking treatment?
A. It’s necessary to ask a lot of questions! You need to learn if your physician is experienced with the issues surrounding pregnancy loss – and that you are comfortable as well.
In today’s world, you need to be a good consumer when choosing a health care provider. If you’re not happy with a doctor, don’t feel obliged to stay with them. Everyone has a different approach to care, and you have to be comfortable.
And be sure to ask about the physician’s ability to follow through. For example, will the doctor be able to care for you until you are pregnant? How supportive are they with your first visit? Do they have the facilities to make you feel comfortable during the evaluation and treatment process? One of the worst things for a patient with recurrent pregnancy losses to hear is “You’re okay, just try again.” That can be traumatic coming from a physician they have trusted. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to start the evaluation right away.
Q. Why should a potential patient choose Main Line Fertility for this type of issue?
A. At Main Line Fertility, we are very concerned about the emotional side of infertility and repeated pregnancy loss. We care very much about how the patient feels during the evaluation. With certain types of treatments, other practices may need to send the patient to another location for tests, but Main Line Fertility provides everything here in the office. It’s not just the matter of reassuring and evaluating the patient – we offer support throughout the entire process. It’s a holistic approach and we take all of our patients’ concerns seriously, evaluating them and providing the support they need throughout the treatment.
Q. How does the staff interact with patients?
A. Main Line Fertility is a truly unique place. I’ve never seen a facility that’s more like a family than this practice. Our extremely experienced staff members are supportive of each other and their patients on so many levels. I’m continually amazed how many times our nurses and staff follow the patients through completion of treatment and their pregnancy, even when they are being cared for in another office. In fact, we frequently receive photos of babies and kids through the years.
Q. Any other advice to offer someone considering treatment?
A. If you are in this situation, don’t delay. It is not worth the anxiety. Make an appointment with a physician and get the help you need right away.