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Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the spontaneous end of a pregnancy at a stage where the embryo or fetus is incapable of surviving, generally defined in humans at prior to 24 weeks of gestation. Miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy.

The most common symptom of a miscarriage is bleeding bleeding during pregnancy may be referred to as a threatened abortion. Of women who seek clinical treatment for bleeding during pregnancy, about half will go on to have a miscarriage. Symptoms other than bleeding are not statistically related to miscarriage.

Miscarriage may also be detected during an ultrasound exam, or through serial human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) testing. Women pregnant from ART methods, and women with a history of miscarriage, may be monitored closely and so detect a miscarriage sooner than women without such monitoring.

Several medical options exist for managing documented nonviable pregnancies that have not been expelled naturally.

A miscarriage (also termed spontaneous abortion) is any pregnancy that spontaneously ends before the fetus can survive. Any vaginal bleeding, other than spotting, during early pregnancy is considered a threatened miscarriage. Vaginal bleeding is very common in early pregnancy. About one out of every four pregnant women has some bleeding during the first few months. About half of these women stop bleeding and complete a normal pregnancy.
  • Threatened miscarriage - Vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy. The bleeding and pain with threatened miscarriage are usually mild and the cervical os (the mouth of the womb) is closed. Your health care provider will be able to determine if the cervical os is open upon performing a pelvic exam. Typically, no tissue is passed from the womb. The womb and Fallopian tubes may be tender.
  • Inevitable miscarriage - Vaginal bleeding along with opening of the cervical os. In this situation, vaginal bleeding is present, and the mouth of the womb is open (dilated). Bleeding is usually more severe, and abdominal pain and cramping often occur.
  • Incomplete miscarriage - Expulsion of some, but not all, of the products of conception before the twentieth week of pregnancy. With incomplete miscarriage, the bleeding is heavier, and abdominal pain is almost always present. The mouth of the womb is open, and the pregnancy is being expelled. Ultrasound would show some material still remaining in the womb.
  • Complete miscarriage - Expulsion of all products of conception from the womb including fetus and placental tissues. Complete miscarriage is just as it sounds. Bleeding, abdominal pain, and the passing of tissue have all occurred, but the bleeding and pain have usually stopped. If you can see the fetus, you have miscarried. Ultrasound shows an empty womb.

General risk factors

Pregnancies involving more than one fetus are at increased risk of miscarriage.

Uncontrolled diabetes greatly increases the risk of miscarriage. Women with controlled diabetes are not at higher risk of miscarriage. Because diabetes may develop during pregnancy (gestational diabetes), an important part of prenatal care is to monitor for signs of the disease.

High blood pressure during pregnancy, known as preeclampsia, is sometimes caused by an inappropriate immune reaction to the developing fetus, and is associated with the risk of miscarriage. Similarly, women with a history of recurrent miscarriages are at risk of developing preeclampsia.

Severe cases of hypothyroidism increase the risk of miscarriage. The effect of milder cases of hypothyroidism on miscarriage rates has not been established. The presence of certain immune conditions such as autoimmune diseases is associated with a greatly increased risk of miscarriage.

Certain illnesses (such as rubella, chlamydia and others) increase the risk of miscarriage.

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