Miscarriages occur when an intrauterine pregnancy fails within the first 20 weeks of conception. Roughly ten to 15 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriages of women who know they are pregnant. However about the number of miscarriages is estimated at about 50% of all pregnancies and happen before the women even know that they are pregnant.1 Typically, miscarriages happen within the first 13 weeks (also known as the first “trimester”) of pregnancy, and second-trimester miscarriages occur less than five percent of the time.2
Symptoms of miscarriages are vaginal bleeding, cramping and severe stomach pains. However, those symptoms during pregnancy does not necessarily mean that you are miscarrying; in most cases, bleeding resolves itself and the remaining duration of the pregnancy is healthy, but you should contact your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms.
In the case of a threatened miscarriage (which is further explained below), it may be possible to carry the baby to term safely. In many instances, however, there is unfortunately nothing that can be done to prevent a miscarriage. If there is an identified cause, such as a weakened cervix, it may be possible to get treatment to stop a future miscarriage from happening. 3
There are different types of miscarriages. Some women experience a threatened miscarriage, in which there is vaginal bleeding early during the pregnancy, but there are no other issues detected. Women that suffer a threatened miscarriage carry their baby to term. An inevitable miscarriage is unlike a threatened miscarriage because after it occurs there is no chance of carrying a baby to term. Inevitable miscarriages occur when heavy and increasing bleeding takes place, the cervix is open, and the baby is lost as a result. Some women also develop septic miscarriages, which are caused by an infection in the uterus. In addition to the symptoms listed above, a woman who is experiencing a septic miscarriage may also have a fever, aches, and chills. Miscarriages are further classified as either complete, in which all pregnancy tissue is passed; or incomplete, in which some pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus following the miscarriage.
Miscarriages can result from a number of different causes. Most miscarriages cannot be avoided because they result from natural causes. For example chromosomal abnormalities make up for two-thirds of early miscarriages.4 However the likelihood of having a miscarriage may be increased trough smoking and drinking. Age, trauma, and high fevers may also play a role in miscarriages. Previous miscarriages may also increase the risk of miscarrying: for women who have experienced one miscarriage, the risk of having a future miscarriage is roughly 20 percent. It increases to 23 percent after two miscarriages, and then jumps to 43 percent following three or more miscarriages.
With that being said, a doctor can help when you and your partner determine how soon you can begin TTC after you’ve experienced a miscarriage. In the next section, we’ll discuss TTC after a miscarriage in greater detail, as well as general information about miscarriage recovery. 5
- March of Dimes (2012 July). “Miscarriage.” Retrieved November 5,2015, from http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/miscarriage.aspx ↩
- March of Dimes. See above. ↩
- NHS. (2015 May 21). “Miscarriage – Causes.” Retrieved November 25, 2015, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Miscarriage/Pages/Causes.aspx ↩
- NHS; see above. ↩
- Tulandi, T. (2012 October). “Patient information: Miscarriage (Beyond the Basics).” Retrieved November 5, 2015, from uptodate.com ↩