Here's How Many Women Have Miscarriages — & Why We Don't Talk About It

Last Wednesday, star-vlogger couple Sam and Nia posted a video of Sam surprising Nia with the news of her pregnancy — a discovery he made after testing urine she had left in the toilet. Gross and creepy though this amateur sleuthing may have been, unexpected announcements of life-altering events are what viral dreams are made of — and over 11 million viewers shared in the pair's joy. Three days later, however, the couple posted the four-minute video "Our Baby Had a Heartbeat," above, in which they reveal that Nia suffered a miscarriage. "Those of you who have experienced miscarriage before, I can relate now," Nia says. "I have felt my womb empty out. I never, ever, ever knew women felt that way."

The couple's extremely public revelation has reignited the conversation around miscarriage and how common it truly is: 10-20% of clinically recognized pregnancies — meaning pregnancies confirmed by professional medical testing — end in miscarriage. That figure is even higher when it includes pregnancies confirmed by home testing or those that end before women are aware they're pregnant. Some experts estimate that half of all pregnancies (consisting of a fertilized ovum) end in spontaneous abortion.

Public figures are increasingly opening up about their fertility struggles, shining light on a topic that continues to carry stigma. When Mark Zuckerberg announced (via Facebook, of course) that he and his wife Priscilla Chan are expecting their first child, he also shared that the couple had suffered three miscarriages prior to Chan's current pregnancy. "Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you're defective or did something to cause this," Zuckerberg wrote. "So you struggle on your own." In 2013, Beyoncé discussed the miscarriage she suffered before the birth of her daughter Blue Ivy Carter (she even released a song about it); Pink, Lily Allen, and Mariah Carey have also come forward with their own stories of losing a pregnancy.

One reason we remain reluctant to talk about miscarriage is the perception that women who experience this have somehow done something wrong. In reality, 50-70% of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities that prevent fertilized eggs from developing normally. Chromosomal abnormality risk increases with age, and other risk factors include: chronic diseases or conditions such as autoimmune and hormonal disorders and poorly controlled diabetes; smoking, drinking, and drug use; and severe trauma or infection.

Sex, exercise, stress, emotional shock, and the majority of medications, meanwhile, aren't to blame. When we subtract blame and guilt from the miscarriage equation, we'll draw this incredibly common phenomenon out of the dark. That doesn't necessarily mean sharing a miscarriage with the internet in near-real-time for everyone to see. But — whether it's through vlogging, Facebook, or celebrity interviews — the internet is certainly helping to move the conversation around miscarriage out from behind closed doors.
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