Miscarriage: Symptoms & Signs

  • 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.

Medically Reviewed on 6/5/2017

The hallmark symptom of miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion or early pregnancy loss, is vaginal bleeding. The bleeding may be very heavy, and blood clots and/or tissue may be passed along with the bleeding. The bleeding is usually accompanied by abdominal pain and cramping. The pain may radiate to the low back, vagina, pelvic area, or buttocks. Fever and chills are not common but may occur if the miscarriage is a result of an infection.

Causes of miscarriage

Most miscarriages are believed to be caused by genetic problems such as chromosomal abnormalities within the embryo that prevent normal development and survival. These genetic problems are not usually related to genetic problems in the mother. In other cases, the cause of miscarriage is unknown. Certain diseases or medical conditions can also cause miscarriage or may increase the risk. These include diabetes, thyroid disease, and infections that can spread to the placenta. Factors that increase a woman's risk of miscarriage include cigarette smoking (> 10 cigarettes per day), older maternal age, trauma to the uterus, moderate or high alcohol consumption, being severely over- or underweight, and illicit drug abuse.

Related Symptoms & Signs


Puscheck, Elizabeth E. "Early Pregnancy Loss." Medscape.com. Oct. 14, 2016. <https://reference.medscape.com/article/266317-overview>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2017
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