An early beta hCG test is a good predictor of an ongoing pregnancy

That first glimpse of two pink lines–can it be?–and your heart start to pound with excitement. You’re pregnant!

But after a few moments of celebration, you descend back to earth. Okay, you’re pregnant, but for how long? Will this pregnancy stick?

You have entered a new, more hopeful limbo than the much bemoaned two-week wait. But it’s still no picnic. This is especially true for women who have spent lots of money on fertility treatments just trying to conceive.

We all know that miscarriage is very common, especially early in pregnancy. And for most women, good info about viability does not come until the first ultrasound usually performed at 8-10 weeks (as I describe extensively here.)

There’s not much good to say about undergoing fertility treatments. But one silver lining is this: Once pregnant, you receive information about your chances of a healthy pregnancy much earlier, from your “betas”–blood tests of your beta hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) levels.

Continue reading An early beta hCG test is a good predictor of an ongoing pregnancy

Age and the Risk of Miscarriage

As women, we hear a lot about the difficulty of getting pregnant as we age, but staying pregnant can often be the bigger challenge, especially as our fertility begins to wane.

The risk of miscarriage rises as a woman ages, with a dramatic rise starting after age 37, with the steepest increase occurring after age 40. By age 45, less than 20% of all recognized pregnancies are viable.

The man’s age matters too. Having a partner over the age of 40 significantly raises the chances of a miscarriage.

Over half of miscarriages are caused by genetic abnormalities. As women age, chromosomal defects in their eggs become increasingly common. On average, a woman in her early 20s will have chromosomal abnormalities in about 17% of her eggs; this percentage jumps to nearly 80% by a woman’s early 40s. And as men age, chromosomal defects and point mutations–changes to a single nucleotide in their DNA–become increasingly common.

How The Chances of Miscarriage Vary By Age Continue reading Age and the Risk of Miscarriage