Signs and Symptoms of Miscarriage

Sometimes, but not always, a miscarriage announces its pending arrival. Sometimes a miscarriage happens and the mother doesn't know about it for some time, as in a missed miscarriage. And, then again, sometimes a miscarriage occurs and the mother didn't know she was pregnant. Each of these situations is a case of what is technically called a spontaneous abortion (SAB), the terms used to denote a pregnancy that ends on its own within the first 20 weeks of gestation.

Nearly One-Quarter of All Pregnancies End in Miscarriage

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss and studies indicate that between 10 and 25 percent of all "clinically recognized pregnancies" will end in miscarriage. Somewhere between 50 to 75 percent of all miscarriages are said to be due to chemical pregnancies, which essentially means a chromosomal abnormality in the embryo. There are other possible causes for a chemical pregnancy that include an inadequate uterine lining, uterine abnormalities that may be congenital or acquired (such as fibroid tumors), low hormone levels, luteal phase defect or an infection. A chemical pregnancy loss usually occurs shortly after implantation so bleeding occurs about the time a normal period would come. It is in these situations that a woman may not even know she is pregnant and the pregnancy is lost.

Most miscarriages occur within the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of pregnancy, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms in the sad event you or someone you know encounters this painful ordeal. There are different types of miscarriages and different treatments for them. Perhaps the most important person to stay connected to is your health care provider who can help you through any of the potential situations that may arise.

Why Miscarriages May Occur

There are a variety of reasons miscarriages occur. As mentioned, they most frequently happen in the first trimester and are the result of chromosomal abnormalities, something isn't right with the embryo. There was a problem with either the egg or sperm cell, or a problem in cell division once the egg was fertilized. Other possible causes of early pregnancy miscarriage include:

· hormonal problems, infections and other maternal problems

· lifestyle issues (smoking, drinking, drug use, malnutrition, toxic exposure, caffeine)

· improper or poor implantation, uterine lining problems

· maternal age

· maternal trauma

The statistics show that the chances of a woman having a miscarriage can range from 10 to 25 percent during her childbearing years. Most healthy women have a risk factor of 15 to 20 percent with the chances of miscarriage increasing with the age of the mother as well as history of miscarriage.


The Signs and Symptoms of Miscarriage

There are signs and symptoms that are consistent with miscarriage. If you experience any, some or all of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider to determine the status of your pregnancy:

· Back pain that is mild to severe, often worse than you would have during menses

· Weight loss

· White-pink mucous discharge

· Real contractions that are painful and occur at 15 to 20 minute intervals

· Brown to bright red bleeding with or without cramps. Bleeding is common to nearly 30 percent of all pregnancies and of those, more than half end in a normal pregnancy.

· Heavy bleeding that soaks a pad in a few hours or less

· Tissue with clot-like material passing from the vagina

· Sudden decrease in pregnancy signs. Sometimes the signs of pregnancy wane rather than stop suddenly.

· In early pregnancy, having a pregnancy test that is positive and then shows negative could indicate an ectopic pregnancy. See your doctor immediately.

The Different Types of Miscarriage and Their Signs

Miscarriage is often a process and can take a while to go through all of the stages. There are different types of miscarriages and the signs may differ with the situation.

Threatened miscarriage has some degree of bleeding along with cramping and low-back pain. This is usually caused by implantation and the pregnancy often goes on without incident.

Inevitable or incomplete miscarriage features abdominal or back pain, bleeding with an open cervix. Miscarriage is inevitable when the cervix is dilated and/or there is rupture of the membranes. If the miscarriage is not complete, bleeding and cramping can continue.

A complete miscarriage is when the embryo (products of conception) has left the uterus. Bleeding, pain and cramping subside relatively quickly. An ultrasound will confirm the loss and a D&C is performed.

Missed miscarriage is when a woman suffers a miscarriage unknowingly. The embryo has died but there has been no release of it. Pregnancy signs are lost and fetal heart tones stop.

Recurrent miscarriage is defined as having three consecutive first-trimester miscarriages.

Miscarriage is a difficult event and a woman needs time to grieve her loss. It does not spell the end of fertility or that a future pregnancy will not be fine. Learn more about the various types of miscarriages on this site and read the article about signs of miscarriage in this section to learn more.

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