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Types of Miscarriage
A miscarriage refers to the loss of a pregnancy and is estimated to occur in 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies. Most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, though they can occur later on in the pregnancy.
Understanding Different Stages of Miscarriage
There are different kinds of miscarriages that can occur at different stages of your pregnancy. Depending on the type of miscarriage, different signs may be noticeable and different treatments may be necessary.
A chemical pregnancy is a very early miscarriage which can occur before a woman even learns that she is pregnant. With chemical pregnancy, an egg is fertilized, but dies shortly after implantation, so a heartbeat is never identified. Recently, more chemical pregnancies have been diagnosed as a result of pregnancy tests that allow earlier results.
Most chemical pregnancies result from chromosomal abnormalities in the fertilized egg. There may be no signs of a chemical pregnancy. Most women simply begin to bleed around the time of their next period, though their period may arrive a few days late or be slightly heavier.
Also known as anembryonic pregnancy, blighted ovum occurs very early in pregnancy, often before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. Blighted ovum occurs when a fertilized egg attached to the uterine wall, but an embryo does not develop. Women may feel signs of pregnancy, but when a doctor performs an ultrasound, he or she notices an empty gestational sac or cannot confirm a heartbeat. After a blighted ovum, women can miscarry the pregnancy or schedule a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, in which the woman’s cervix is opened and her uterus scraped.
With a missed miscarriage, a fetus dies early in pregnancy, but the pregnancy tissue is not expelled by the woman’s body. A woman who has experienced a missed miscarriage, also called a missed abortion, may continue to feel signs of pregnancy if the placenta still releases hormones, or she may notice signs of pregnancy fade. Some women may experience some vaginal discharge and cramping, but many have no symptoms of miscarriage. Sometimes the body will dispel the fetal tissue, but other times, a D&C procedure is necessary.
A threatened miscarriage refers to vaginal bleeding that occurs during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Other symptoms of threatened miscarriage include lower back pain and abdominal cramps. Threatened miscarriages do not necessarily mean your pregnancy will end in a miscarriage.
If you have experienced unexplained bleeding during pregnancy, your doctor will want to perform an examination. In a threatened miscarriage, the cervix will remain closed. However, if an examination reveals the cervix has opened, a miscarriage is much more likely. Threatened miscarriages can be frightening, but it is important to note that around half of threatened miscarriages result in a live birth.
Inevitable miscarriage refers to unexplained vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain during early pregnancy. Unlike threatened miscarriage, an inevitable miscarriage is also accompanied by dilation of the cervical canal. Bleeding is also heavier and abdominal cramps more severe in an inevitable miscarriage. The open cervix in an inevitable miscarriage is a sign that the body is in the process of miscarrying the pregnancy.
An incomplete abortion is often accompanied by heavy vaginal bleeding and intense abdominal pain. An incomplete abortion, which is also called an incomplete miscarriage, is also characterized by an open cervix and the passage of the pregnancy. Patients may pass some of the pregnancy tissue, or an examination may observe evidence of tissue passage. All the products of conception have not been passed, and an ultrasound may still detect some tissue in the uterus.
A complete miscarriage refers to a miscarriage in which all of the pregnancy tissue is expelled from the uterus. A complete miscarriage, which is also called a complete abortion, is characterized by heavy vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, and passage of pregnancy tissue. With a complete miscarriage, the bleeding and pain should subside quickly. Complete miscarriages can be confirmed through an ultrasound.