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Miscarriage Symptoms and Treatment

Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. Approximately 20 percent or 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and often a cause is never found. Most miscarriages occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and are usually a single occurrence. However if a woman endures three consecutive miscarriages, they are considered recurring miscarriages. Medical tests may be ordered to discover what underlying conditions are causing the problems.

Most miscarriages result from genetic or chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, medical complications relating to hormonal imbalances, or problems with the uterus or placenta. In general, minor day-to-day experiences don't have an effect on whether or not a pregnancy is successful.


Vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of a miscarriage. It may consist of slight spotting or heavier flow with clots. The bleeding is typically followed by cramping and lower abdominal pain. Usually, the woman's body will recover quickly and easily. The psychological and emotional pain endured can be severe though, for the woman, her partner, and their family.


The standard medical procedure for handling a miscarriage is the surgical evacuation of the products of conception followed by routine examination of such products. Many miscarriages require a dilation and curettage (D&C) which entails manually opening the woman's cervix and scraping out her uterus.

Another method is to administer drugs to aid expulsion of retained products. Such drugs may include prostaglandin analogue (misoprostol) or mifepristone (also known as RU486) which blocks pregnancy hormones.

If a miscarriage occurs at six and a half weeks of pregnancy or earlier, the doctor may suggest the woman wait a few days to see if her body will expel the fetus spontaneously. This process of “expectant management” has been increasingly used as an alternative for certain cases, provided that facilities for monitoring the patient are available.


There is a 75 percent chance of miscarriage in weeks 1 to 2 of pregnancy, when you do not even know you are pregnant. There is a 10 percent chance in weeks 3 to 6, and a 5 percent chance during weeks 6 to 12. During the second trimester the chance of miscarriage drops again to 3 percent.