A miscarriage (also called a spontaneous abortion) is the unexpected ending of a pregnancy in the first 20 weeks of gestation. Just because it’s called a “miscarriage” doesn’t mean you did something wrong in carrying the pregnancy. Most miscarriages are beyond your control and occur because the fetus stops growing.
Types of miscarriage
Your pregnancy care provider may diagnose you with the following types of miscarriage:
1. Missed miscarriage: You’ve lost the pregnancy but are unaware it’s happened. There are no symptoms of miscarriage, but an ultrasound confirms the fetus has no heartbeat.
2. Complete miscarriage: You’ve lost the pregnancy and your uterus is empty. You’ve experienced bleeding and passed fetal tissue. Your provider can confirm a complete miscarriage with an ultrasound.
3.Recurrent miscarriage: Three consecutive miscarriages. It affects about 1% of couples.
4. Threatened miscarriage: Your cervix stays closed, but you’re bleeding and experiencing pelvic cramping. The pregnancy typically continues with no further issues. Your pregnancy care provider may monitor you more closely for the rest of your pregnancy.
5. Inevitable miscarriage: You’re bleeding, cramping and your cervix has started to open (dilate). You may leak amniotic fluid. A complete miscarriage is likely.
How do I know if I’m having a miscarriage?
You may not be aware you’re having a miscarriage. In people who have symptoms of a miscarriage, the most common signs are:
1. Bleeding that progresses from light to heavy. You may also pass grayish tissue or blood clots.
2. Cramps and abdominal pain (usually worse than menstrual cramps).
3. Low back ache that may range from mild to severe.
4. A decrease in pregnancy symptoms.
What causes miscarriage?
Chromosomal abnormalities cause about 50% of all miscarriages in the first trimester (up to 13 weeks) of pregnancy. Chromosomes are tiny structures inside the cells of your body that carry your genes. Genes determine all of a person’s physical attributes, such as assigned sex, hair and eye color and blood type.
During fertilization, when the egg and sperm join, two sets of chromosomes come together. If an egg or sperm has more or fewer chromosomes than normal, the fetus will have an abnormal number. As a fertilized egg grows into a fetus, its cells divide and multiply several times. Abnormalities during this process also leads to miscarriage.
Most chromosomal problems occur by chance. It’s not completely known why this happens.
Several factors may cause miscarriage:
Exposure to TORCH diseases.
Improper implantation of fertilized egg in your uterine lining.
How old you are.
Incompetent cervix (your cervix begins to open too early in pregnancy).
Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs.
Disorders of the immune system like lupus.
Severe kidney disease.
Congenital heart disease.
Diabetes that isn’t managed.
Certain medicines, such as the acne drug isotretinoin.
There is no scientific proof that stress, exercise, sexual activity or prolonged use of birth control pills cause miscarriage. Whatever your situation is, it’s important to not blame yourself for having a miscarriage. Most miscarriages have nothing to do with something you did or didn’t do.