It is estimated that 5% of women experience two clinical miscarriages and approximately 1% suffer three or more losses.
Researchers at the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust have found that body clock genes could affect women's ability to have children. The study pinpoints how body clock genes are temporarily switched off in the lining of the womb to allow an embryo to implant. Timing of this event is critical for pregnancy.
The researchers examined endometrial cells from womb linings of healthy women, and also biopsies from women who had sadly suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss. They found that women suffering from recurrent miscarriages may be less able to regulate clock genes in the lining of the womb.
The study also provides new insights into how night and shift work could affect female fertility and could have major implications for IVF, as the findings suggest that fertility specialists could, in future, target bio-rhythms in the womb to improve the environment for implanted embryos.
Professor Jan Brosens, Consultant in Reproductive Health at Warwick Medical School and UHCW NHS Trust said: "Infertility affects one in six women across the world, but the area of body clock genes has not been looked at in this detail before.
"It's crucial during pregnancy that mothers and their babies' embryos are able to synchronise. If this fails to happen, it can cause miscarriage. However, it can also increase the risk of complications in later stages of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction and pre-term birth.
Professor Siobhan Quenby, Consultant Obstetrician at Warwick Medical School and UHCW NHS Trust said: "We believe our study has huge implications in the understanding of the body clock genes and their effect on female fertility.
"We hope that it will increase worldwide knowledge about possible reasons for infertility and recurrent miscarriages, so that we are able to help families achieve their dream of having children."