Types of Miscarriages and Their Causes
A miscarriage can be a devastating event. Also known as a “spontaneous abortion”, it is an incident where a fetus doesn’t make it past the 20th week of pregnancy. Usually, a miscarriage will occur early on in a woman’s pregnancy – most of them happen within the first 3 months.
There are 5 types of pregnancy loss that we’ll get to in this guide. They include:
Even though miscarriages are common, they can be very emotionally difficult for those involved. Grief, depression, and feelings of loss often ensue after a pregnancy loss. Not to mention, women may experience physical pain including cramps and bleeding. What causes miscarriages? There are a few elements that cause these events. The most common cause of miscarriage is due to genetic abnormalities.
In this guide, we will go over the different types of miscarriages, what causes them, signs and symptoms, and other useful information.
The first type of unintended pregnancy loss that we’ll go over is a threatened miscarriage or abortion.
In this process, the pregnant woman will experience vaginal bleeding while the cervix remains closed. Women may also experience mild cramping in the lower abdomen. Sometimes the bleeding will stop, and the pregnancy will continue as normal. Unfortunately, other times, this bleeding results in pregnancy loss.
This is why this type of miscarriage is described as a “threatened” abortion. Sometimes, the embryo will die while other times it will survive. There is 50% of either result.
The exact cause of this miscarriage is still unknown. However, it is much more common among women who’ve had a miscarriage in the past. There are also some risk factors that we’ll cover below.
This is similar to the above condition. During an inevitable miscarriage, the woman will experience bleeding. However, with the inevitable miscarriage, the cervix will remain open rather than closed. The bleeding is heavier with this type. There is no chance that the pregnancy will survive an inevitable miscarriage.
An inevitable abortion sometimes occurs after a threatened miscarriage. It may also occur without any warning. This is why it’s so important to contact your medical provider as soon as you notice signs and symptoms.
This type of pregnancy loss is different from a full miscarriage. An incomplete miscarriage result is some pregnancy tissue coming out of the uterus and some staying inside. It occurs when the cervix is dilated, causing bleeding. Most of the fetus will exit through the uterus, but some of it will remain inside.
When this happens, women need follow-up treatment to remove the remaining tissue. This process requires a medical professional.
Remember that a miscarriage doesn’t entail that a woman is incapable of having children. Many women have perfectly healthy children after an incomplete miscarriage.
During a complete miscarriage, the entire pregnancy tissue exits the body through the uterus. Generally, follow-up treatment is not required although it is recommended. With a complete miscarriage, it is normal for vaginal bleeding to persist for many days. Cramping is also very common as a result of the uterus contracting. These cramps can feel like strong period pains or even labor.
It’s important to have a checkup after any type of miscarriage. This can ensure that follow-up treatment is not necessary. This is also a good time to ask your health care provider about any questions or concerns you may have regarding future pregnancies and your overall health.
It is hard to tell if you’ve had a missed miscarriage. This is because there is no bleeding or cramps involved. These silent miscarriages are noticed during ultrasounds where the embryo doesn’t show signs of a heartbeat. Most of the time the tissue will pass on its own. Your medical provider will let you know if you need treatment.
A blighted ovum miscarriage occurs when a sac develops, but there is no fetus inside. This is also known as an “anembryonic pregnancy”.
Only a scan will show if a woman has a blighted ovum. In the very early stages of pregnancy, the embryo can be reabsorbed into the uterus after being conceived.
Early pregnancy loss occurs during the first 13 weeks. It is very common, occurring in about 10% of pregnancies. Causes of early pregnancy loss vary. However, about half of them are the result of an embryo with an abnormal number of chromosomes.
Causes of a Miscarriage
Reasons for miscarriages vary. Usually, they have little to do with the actions of the pregnant individual. Activities such as exercise, sex, work, or minor injuries like falls do not cause a miscarriage. There is no evidence to tie these actions to a miscarriage. It is usually beyond the control of the pregnant woman.
What could cause a miscarriage then?
- An abnormal number of genes or chromosomes in the fertilized egg.
- Some health complications such as severe diabetes, which may increase the chances of miscarriage.
- Abnormalities in the uterus, such as a septum.
- Major injuries or infections, which can lead to pregnancy loss.
- Recurrent miscarriages, which increase the chances of future ones.
- Smoking, drinking excessively or utilizing drugs while pregnant.
As this brief list demonstrates, the causes of miscarriage are many. Speak with your health care provider if you’ve had or believe you have had one. A medical professional can clarify what happened and discuss treatment options with you.
Signs and Symptoms
There are a few signs to look for if you believe you’ve had a miscarriage. The most common one is bleeding. If you experience even slight spotting, speak with your health care provider. They will ask questions to determine the heaviness of the bleeding and whether you noticed any blood clots or tissue.
Other symptoms include cramping and lower abdomen pain. These can affect other areas such as the lower back, genitals, or buttocks. Some women may also notice that they no longer feel nausea from morning sickness. They may also notice a sudden absence of breast tenderness or swelling. Any of this can be a sign of a miscarriage.
Aside from bleeding and abdominal pain, women may feel dizzy, weak, or uncontrollably nauseous. If you experience any of the above, we advise you to get in touch with your doctor immediately.
Certain risk factors can increase the risk of a miscarriage, including:
- A previous history of miscarriages
- Age – older people are more prone
- Exposure to radiation or environmental toxins
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Too much consumption of caffeine
- Some medications can cause a miscarriage
- Being overweight or underweight
There isn’t any evidence that exercise or having sex during pregnancy leads to a miscarriage. If you have any doubts or concerns, be sure to consult your doctor.
Miscarriages can be devastating. They affect the emotional and physical health of women. However, always remember that there are treatments and tests available. Medical and holistic treatment can lead you to a healthy pregnancy in the future. Many women who have experienced miscarriages go on with their lives and have healthy babies. If you believe you have had a miscarriage or are experiencing symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Additionally, we have a guide written to help women figure out what to do after a miscarriage, we hope it will be useful to you and others.
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