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Miscarriage Resources from UPMC in Central Pa.

A miscarriage occurs when you lose your baby before the 20th week of pregnancy.

How Can A Miscarriage Happen?

Most miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy and cannot be prevented. Miscarriages that occur after the 20th week are called premature delivery. Although the causes of miscarriage are not fully understood, there are several factors that can contribute to miscarriage, including:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities in the baby
  • Exposure to environmental hazards, such as radiation or toxic chemicals
  • Hormonal problems
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Incompetent cervix, which causes the cervix to open too early
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs
  • Immune system disorders such as lupus
  • Kidney disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Taking certain medications
  • Malnutrition

Most women who suffer miscarriages go on to have other normal pregnancies and births. Miscarriages do not necessarily signal fertility problems.

Symptoms of Miscarriage

If you are experiencing symptoms of a miscarriage, you should call your physician immediately. Symptoms of miscarriage include:

  • Light bleeding that progresses to heavier bleeding
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Passing of tissue


Your physician will assess your symptoms and perform a pelvic exam and ultrasound to confirm the miscarriage. If there are no remaining fetal or placental tissue in your uterus, the miscarriage is complete and no further treatment is required.

If the uterus does not empty completely on its own, you may need to have a procedure called dilation and evacuation (D&E) to remove any remaining fetal or placental tissue. Your physician may also prescribe medication to help your body completely expel the contents of your uterus.

If your physician is unable to confirm the miscarriage, he or she may recommend treatment such as:

  • Bed rest
  • Hospitalization
  • Blood work to check the amount of HCG, or pregnancy hormone, in your system
  • Genetic tests
  • Medical procedures, such as a surgical procedure to treat incompetent cervix

If you suffer from repeated miscarriages (more than two miscarriages in a row), your physician may recommend diagnostic procedures to determine the cause, including:

  • Endometrial biopsy, during which a small amount of tissue is removed from the lining of your uterus
  • X-rays of the uterus and fallopian tubes
  • Hysteroscopy, a test that allows your physician to see inside your uterus using a small telescope-like device
  • Laparoscopy, a surgical procedure that uses a lighted device to allow your physician to see your pelvic organs
  • Blood tests to detect clotting disorders called thrombophelias

It is important that you take time to heal physically and emotionally after suffering a miscarriage. Your physician will tell you how long you should wait before trying to get pregnant again. He or she can also provide information on support groups and counselors in your area who can help you cope with the loss of your pregnancy.

Need more information?

Phone: 717-231-8472 

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about pregnancy complications.

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