Miscarriage

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

What are the types of miscarriage?

Miscarriages are sometimes referred to by tissue-specific names to reflect the clinical findings or the type of miscarriage. Examples include:

  • Threatened abortion: a woman may experience vaginal bleeding or others signs of miscarriage (see below), but loss of the pregnancy has not yet occurred
  • Incomplete abortion: some of the products of conception (fetal and placental tissues) have been expelled from the uterus, but some remain.
  • Complete abortion: all of the tissue from the pregnancy has been expelled
  • Missed abortion: the fetus has not developed, so there is no viable pregnancy, but there is placental tissue and/or fetal tissue contained within the uterus
  • Septic abortion: a miscarriage in which there is infection in the presence of retained fetal and/or placental tissue.

What are signs and symptoms of a miscarriage?

Vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain are the hallmark symptoms of miscarriage. All vaginal bleeding during pregnancy should be investigated, although not all instances of bleeding result from a miscarriage. Bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy is very common and does not typically signify a miscarriage. The pain tends to be dull and cramping, and it may come and go or be present constantly. Sometimes, there is passage of fetal or placental tissue. This material may appear whitish and covered with blood. The bleeding may be associated with the passage of blood clots. The amount of bleeding does not necessarily correlate with the severity of the situation, and miscarriage may be associated with bleeding that ranges from mild to severe.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/4/2015
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