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The A-Z Guide to Miscarriage: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

| 20 Jul 2023 | 1768 Views |

Introduction

If you’re like most people, the term “miscarriage” can stir a whirlpool of emotions, primarily because it’s often shrouded in mystery and misconceptions. However, as painful as the topic might be, it’s crucial to understand it fully – what it is, what causes it, the symptoms to look out for, and how it can be prevented or treated. This knowledge isn’t just power—it’s hope for a brighter, more informed future in your fertility journey.

At India IVF Fertility, we believe in empowering individuals with accurate, accessible, and actionable information. Today, we’ll delve deep into the subject of miscarriage.

What is a Miscarriage?

Simply put, a miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. It’s a common event—according to Mayo Clinic, it occurs in 10-20% of known pregnancies. Unfortunately, many miscarriages happen before a woman realizes she’s pregnant.

Types of Miscarriage:

Not all miscarriages are the same. They can be classified into several types, such as:

  • Chemical pregnancy: This is an early miscarriage that occurs shortly after implantation. It often goes unnoticed and may be mistaken for a regular period.
  • Blighted ovum or anembryonic pregnancy: In this case, a gestational sac forms, but the embryo doesn’t develop.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: Here, the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, typically in the fallopian tube. It can’t develop into a healthy baby and poses a serious health risk to the mother.
  • Molar pregnancy: A genetic error during fertilization leads to the growth of abnormal tissue instead of an embryo.

Other types include incomplete miscarriage, complete miscarriage, missed miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage (three or more consecutive pregnancy losses), and stillbirth (loss of a baby after the 20th week of pregnancy) [source: American Pregnancy Association].

What Causes Miscarriage?

Many factors can lead to miscarriage. They include:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities: This is the most common cause of first-trimester miscarriages. It’s nature’s way of stopping the development of an embryo with genetic problems.
  • Age: A woman’s age plays a significant role. The risk of miscarriage is 20% at age 35, rising sharply to 80% by the age of 45 .
  • Lifestyle factors: Smoking, alcohol, excessive caffeine, and illicit drug use can increase the risk.
  • Underlying health conditions: These include uncontrolled diabetes, infections, hormonal issues, thyroid disease, and autoimmune disorders.
  • Structural problems: Abnormalities in the shape or structure of the uterus or the presence of uterine fibroids can lead to miscarriage.

Now that we’ve covered the general causes, let’s take a closer look at the specific triggers for miscarriages at different stages of pregnancy.

Causes of Miscarriage in the First Trimester:

First-trimester miscarriages are often due to chromosomal abnormalities. Other causes can be hormonal problems, infections, mother’s health problems, or lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol.

Causes of Miscarriage at 5 Weeks Pregnancy:

At 5 weeks, miscarriages are typically due to chromosomal abnormalities. Lifestyle factors, age, and underlying health conditions can also be contributing factors.

Causes of 4-Month Fetus Miscarriage:

By the 4th month, chromosomal problems are less likely, but still possible. The risk of miscarriage can increase due to maternal health problems, infections, structural problems in the uterus, or a weakened cervix.

Remember, every pregnancy is unique. If you’re concerned about miscarriage, consult your healthcare provider or a fertility expert at India IVF Fertility for personalized advice.

Early Symptoms of Miscarriage:

Miscarriage symptoms can vary greatly. They include:

  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding
  • Pain or cramping in your lower back or abdomen
  • Fluid or tissue passing from your vagina
  • Decrease in pregnancy symptoms

Early Miscarriage Symptoms at 2 Weeks Pregnancy:

At two weeks, a miscarriage might resemble a heavy period with more intense cramping. You may not even realize you were pregnant.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to contact your healthcare provider immediately. Early intervention can, at times, help manage the symptoms or treat the cause if the miscarriage isn’t complete.

Diagnosing a Miscarriage:

Diagnosing-a-Miscarriage

To confirm a miscarriage, your healthcare provider might recommend:

  • Pelvic exam: To check if your cervix has dilated.
  • Ultrasound: This imaging test can detect if the baby is still developing or if you’ve had a complete miscarriage.
  • Blood tests: They can check your level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy.
  • Tissue tests: If you’ve passed tissue, it can be analyzed in the lab to help determine the cause of miscarriage.

Miscarriage Treatment:

Treatment after a miscarriage depends on the circumstances. In the case of a complete miscarriage, no medical treatment is usually required. If the miscarriage is incomplete, treatment options include:

  • Expectant management: You can choose to wait and let the miscarriage process naturally.
  • Medical management: Medication can help your body expel the pregnancy tissue.
  • Surgical management: Procedures like dilation and curettage (D&C) can remove the remaining tissue from your uterus.

Post-miscarriage, your healthcare provider might recommend waiting for a certain period before trying to conceive again. This allows your body to recover and your menstrual cycle to normalize.

Risk Factors for Miscarriage:

Several factors can increase your risk of miscarriage:

  • Age: Women over the age of 35 have a higher risk.
  • Chronic conditions: Diseases like diabetes or autoimmune disorders can increase the risk.
  • Uterine or cervical problems: Certain congenital anomalies or previous invasive uterine procedures can increase the risk.
  • Smoking, alcohol, and drug use: These substances are harmful to a developing baby.
  • Weight: Obesity increases the risk of miscarriage.

Remember, having risk factors doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a miscarriage, and many women with these risks carry pregnancies to term successfully.

How Can I Prevent Miscarriage?

Preventing a miscarriage isn’t always possible, but you can take steps to promote a healthy pregnancy:

  • Take prenatal vitamins.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs.
  • Manage chronic conditions.
  • Limit caffeine intake.

The best approach is to maintain regular check-ups with your healthcare provider and seek their guidance on pregnancy planning and management.

How soon can I get pregnant after a miscarriage?

Generally, it’s safe to try to conceive after you’ve had one normal menstrual cycle post-miscarriage. However, your healthcare provider can give you personalized advice. It’s also crucial to ensure you’re emotionally ready to try for a baby again.

What Happens During A Miscarriage?

During a miscarriage, the fetus, placenta, and other pregnancy tissues pass out of the uterus. This can result in heavy bleeding and cramping. Depending on how far along the pregnancy was, you may pass tissue or clots. It’s an emotionally and physically draining process and getting support from healthcare professionals is essential.

First Pregnancy Miscarriage Rate:

The rate of miscarriage in first pregnancies is around 10-20%. However, many women have successful pregnancies after a miscarriage. Consult your healthcare provider if you’re worried about the risk of miscarriage in your next pregnancy.

Conclusion

Going through a miscarriage can be a profoundly personal and painful experience, but it’s crucial to remember that you’re not alone, and support is available. At India IVF Fertility, we’re committed to helping you navigate the complex journey of fertility, armed with the right information and medical support.

FAQs

A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week.

Miscarriage types include chemical pregnancy, blighted ovum, ectopic pregnancy, and molar pregnancy.

Miscarriage can be caused by chromosomal abnormalities, age, lifestyle factors, and underlying health conditions.

Symptoms can include vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, and a decrease in pregnancy symptoms.

Diagnosis may involve a pelvic exam, ultrasound, blood tests, or tissue tests.

Treatment options depend on the circumstances and may include expectant management, medical management, or surgical management.

Risk factors can include age, chronic conditions, uterine or cervical problems, smoking, and obesity.

While not all miscarriages can be prevented, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular prenatal care can help promote a healthy pregnancy.

Generally, you can try to conceive after one normal menstrual cycle post-miscarriage, but it's best to consult your healthcare provider.

The miscarriage rate in first pregnancies is around 10-20%.

About The Author
Dr. Richika Sahay

MBBS (Gold Medalist), DNB (Obst & Gyne), MNAMS, MRCOG (London-UK), Fellow IVF, Fellow MAS, Infertility (IVF) Specialist & Gynae Laparoscopic surgeon,[Ex AIIMS & Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi]. Read more

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