Miscarriages: Symptoms, Causes, Support and FAQs
Dr. Divya Vora

Dr. Divya Vora

Feb 20Pregnancy

Miscarriages: Symptoms, Causes, Support and FAQs

This article has been compiled by Vaibhavi Kodnani, a content writer at Proactive For Her.

Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the loss of a foetus of 500 gms or lesser. At this point, the foetus is not capable of independent survival. It can occur anytime during the first or second trimester, i.e. up to the 24th week of pregnancy. If the miscarriage happens after 24 weeks, it is known as preterm birth.


What are the types of miscarriages?

The different terms your doctor uses to describe the miscarriage may leave you feeling confused and frustrated. Here is a simple breakdown.


Threatened miscarriage: It isn’t a miscarriage per se, but there is a high risk of loss of the pregnancy. The woman may notice threatening symptoms like spotting or bleeding from the vagina but may not miscarry. If the woman takes rest and receives timely treatment, it is possible to reverse the miscarriage.


Inevitable miscarriage: In this kind, the loss of that pregnancy is inevitable like the name suggests. A threatened miscarriage can also progress to an inevitable one. If the woman’s cervix opens and the foetus reaches the cervix, the miscarriage becomes inevitable.


Complete miscarriage: It means that all the pregnancy tissues have been expelled from the woman’s body.


Incomplete miscarriage: In this case, not all the pregnancy tissues have left the woman’s body and sometimes a doctor’s intervention may be required to complete the process.


Missed miscarriage: This kind indicates that the foetus has died in the womb but the pregnancy tissues have not been expelled from the body.


Septic miscarriage: In this, an infection develops within the uterus. It can happen if a woman took pills to abort or if the instruments used for the abortion were not sterile.

We always recommend that expectant women seek pregnancy termination advice and guidance from certified practitioners only.


What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?


If a pregnant woman has any of these symptoms, she should seek medical advice immediately.


  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Colour of the blood darker than usual menstrual blood
  • Spotting - bleeding may be brisk and stop spontaneously
  • Fleshy mass passing through the vagina


Are women always aware they have suffered through a miscarriage?


Many times, the woman may not be aware of her pregnancy. A miscarriage has very similar characteristics to a period. Hence, unfortunately, if she suffers from a miscarriage at an early stage, she may easily mistake it for a regular period.


How can one detect if it’s a miscarriage or period?


There a few signs to watch out for that can help differentiate between a period and a miscarriage. A woman must specifically be careful if she has been sexually active around the ovulation period of the menstrual cycle.


It may be a miscarriage if:


  • The woman gets bleeding a few days after the expected period date (for a woman having regular periods).
  • She notices large clots or whitish mass passing through her vagina.
  • She experiences nausea or vomiting around the episode of bleeding.
  • The colour of the blood is darker than usual menstrual blood; it may also appear brownish.
  • There is spotting, i.e. bleeding episodes are shorter than a regular period.
  • She does a Urine Pregnancy Test while bleeding and tests positive.


What are the causes of a miscarriage?


The causes of a miscarriage are rather complex and may be due to any of the following factors:

  • Genetic factors like chromosomal abnormalities
  • Anatomical defects in the woman’s cervix or uterus
  • Antibodies abnormalities
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Environmental factors like smoking, alcoholism, drugs, contraceptive pills; exposure to X-Rays, metallic radiation, harmful gases, hair dyes and other chemicals.
  • Endocrine and metabolic disorders like hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, PCOS
  • Viral or bacterial infections before the 20th week of pregnancy
  • Some unexplained factors like sexual contact, abdominal trauma and travelling for long hours during the first trimester of pregnancy.


Who is at a higher risk of miscarriage?


Certain factors increase a woman’s risk of miscarrying:


  • Being above 35 years of age
  • Marriage within the family
  • Having certain disorders or abnormalities
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Intake of teratogenic drugs


How is a miscarriage diagnosed?


If a woman experiences abdominal pain, spotting or bleeding from the vagina, the passage of masses and clots from the vagina, she should immediately consult her doctor. The doctor will try to find out the possible causes of bleeding and pain. They may also examine your abdomen, conduct a vaginal examination to check the cervix status, and determine whether it is open or closed. It will help them detect the kind of miscarriage. After this procedure, they will do an ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage and its type.


What are the treatments after a miscarriage?


Treatment after a miscarriage depends on the kind of the miscarriage and the underlying cause of its occurrence. But, here are some crucial points to remember:


  • A week after the abortion, the woman can follow her routine. The body goes back to the normal state after 3-4 days.
  • The woman’s uterus takes 3-6 months to heal and for the cycles to become normal. Hence, the doctor recommends using contraceptives for the next six months to avoid conception.
  • Before planning the next pregnancy, the doctor will conduct various tests for the possible causes of the miscarriage. They will start the treatments for it to avoid the same situation from occurring again.
  • The doctor will also call the couple for preconception counselling before they plan another pregnancy.


What should a couple do after a miscarriage?


A miscarriage can be difficult for the couple to accept and can even cause emotional distress. The couple may feel anxious and scared to plan another pregnancy. Here are some ways to deal with a miscarriage:


  • Generally, the doctor will counsel and educate the couple and their relatives before they plan another pregnancy.
  • The family should support, motivate and encourage the woman.
  • The couple can take a vacation to destress and spend quality time with each other.
  • They should be around people who love and care about them.
  • They can even seek therapy if it is emotionally too painful.
  • Lastly, there are many ways to have a child other than the traditional method. The doctor will provide the couple with other options if a miscarriage occurs more than once.


Can a miscarriage be prevented?


80% of the miscarriages occur before the 12th week of the pregnancy, hence care during the first trimester is of utmost importance. A woman should follow her doctor’s advice to lower the risk of a miscarriage. If she is carrying, she should take the following precautions:


  • Do not travel for long hours, especially by road
  • Do not have any sexual contact
  • Do not lift any heavyweights
  • Do not perform strenuous exercises


Apart from these, it is important to stop smoking, alcohol and drugs at least 6 months before planning a pregnancy. Treatments can be given to those who have metabolic and endocrine disorders. The doctor may consider surgery prior to conception for women with any anatomical defects.


FAQs on miscarriages:


Can a miscarriage be fatal?


A miscarriage can lead to complications like sepsis and haemorrhage and be fatal if there is a delay in treatment.


Can the woman conceive again after a miscarriage?


Yes, she can.


When should the couple plan another pregnancy?


The couple can plan another pregnancy 3-6 months after a miscarriage.


Can a miscarriage happen more than once?


When a miscarriage happens more than once, it is called recurrent pregnancy loss. When a woman suffers two or more miscarriages, the doctor will conduct various tests. In some cases, they may also do a genetic test of the aborted.


What are the other options after a recurrent pregnancy loss?


If there have been 2-3 pregnancy losses and the doctor has not found the cause, they will advise the couple to consider other options to have a baby like adoption or IVF.


Bottom line

The key to preventing a miscarriage is taking good care of yourself in the first trimester of the pregnancy. Even after that, in some circumstances, a miscarriage becomes inevitable. With the right guidance, awareness and support, it is possible to conceive again. But always remember that there are many options to have a baby, so keep yourself open-minded!

This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare practitioners before undertaking any changes in your diet or adding supplements.

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