What They Are
Conditions that cause the blood to clot too easily or prevent clots from dissolving properly. Some, such as factor V Leiden and prothrombin mutations, are genetic disorders, while others, such as antiphospholipid (APL) syndrome, result from malfunctions in the immune system.
Who Gets Them
People whose bodies make too many blood clotting factors or two few anti-clotting factors. They may inherit the disorder from one or both parents, or the fault may lie in the immune system.
A tendency to form potentially dangerous clots that could travel to the lungs, heart, or brain. During pregnancy, a woman may develop clots in the placenta, which can lead to miscarriage.
How They're Diagnosed/Detected
Through a blood test.
How It Affects Fertility (And Pregnancy)
Clotting disorders can lead to miscarriage and cause other pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure and slow fetal growth. Studies have shown that some 15 percent of women who suffer recurrent miscarriage have APL syndrome, in which clots cut off oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Factor V Leiden and prothrombin mutations also raise the risk of placental abruption, in which the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before delivery, causing heavy bleeding that is dangerous for both mother and baby.
Blood-thinning drugs, such as heparin, combat excessive clotting. Pregnant women are treated with subcutaneous (under the skin) injections of heparin and daily doses of baby aspirin.
Once diagnosed, clotting disorders are manageable, and most women with these conditions have normal pregnancies. Recent studies have shown that the combined regimen of heparin and aspirin can reduce miscarriage by 54 percent in women with APL.
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