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A missed miscarriage, also known as a missed abortion or a silent miscarriage, occurs when a fetus dies, but the body does not recognize the pregnancy loss or expel the pregnancy tissue. As a result, the placenta may still continue to release hormones, so the woman may continue to experience signs of pregnancy.
A missed miscarriage is usually diagnosed during a routine checkup, where the doctor will fail to detect a heartbeat. A subsequent ultrasound will show an underdeveloped fetus.
Signs of Missed Miscarriage
A missed miscarriage is often known as a silent miscarriage because women generally do not have common miscarriage symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding, heavy cramping, or expulsion of fetal tissue. With a missed miscarriage, the placenta may still release hormones, which can continue the signs of pregnancy for women. However, some women may notice that their pregnancy symptoms, like breast tenderness, nausea, or fatigue, may disappear. Some may also have brownish or red vaginal discharge. Doctors can diagnose missed miscarriages by lack of a fetal heartbeat and an ultrasound that will show an underdeveloped fetus.
Rates of Missed Miscarriage
Approximately one percent of all pregnancies will result in a missed miscarriage. Around 20 percent of pregnancies will result in miscarriage.
Missed Miscarriage Causes
Most missed miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, which do not allow the pregnancy to develop.
Treatment for Missed Miscarriage
If a missed miscarriage has occurred early in pregnancy, a woman will usually be able to expel the pregnancy tissue naturally. However, if the fetal tissue remains in the body for a longer time, a D&C procedure is usually recommended. In this procedure, the cervix is opened and the contents of pregnancy are removed. This can cut down on infections, which may occur if the fetal tissue remains in the body.
After a missed miscarriage, couples are encouraged to wait between one to three menstrual cycles before trying to conceive again.