Anyone who is able to be pregnant is at risk for a miscarriage. The most common reason is because the fetus isn’t forming normally. If you are having pain, bleeding or discharge during pregnancy, it is important to contact your doctor right away. Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you’re having a miscarriage; but they may be symptoms of a problem with your pregnancy. You will need to get medical help.
What is a miscarriage?
A miscarriage happens when a pregnant person loses a fetus before the 20th week (or five months). Most often, a miscarriage happens within the first 12 weeks (three months). It can be very hard to determine what caused a miscarriage. Risk factors include:
- Being over 35 year old
- Having miscarriages in other pregnancies
- Having an ongoing health condition, such as diabetes
- Being overweight or underweight
- Smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs and medicines that have not been prescribed or approved by your doctor
- Having problems with your uterus or cervix
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- Lower back or abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unusual or thick vaginal discharge
Having these symptoms does not always mean you are having a miscarriage. However, if you have any of these, you should see your health care provider right away.
Miscarriage testing & treatment
While there is no test that can predict if you will have a miscarriage, there are tests that can tell if you are having one.
- Pelvic exam
- Ultrasound (a wand that goes over your belly or in your vagina that allows the doctor to see images of the fetus)
- Blood tests that measure pregnancy hormones
- Tissue tests (if you have had vaginal tissue discharge, take it to the doctor)
If your doctor tells you that you are having, or are going to have, a miscarriage, you can:
- Let it happen naturally. This can take up to a couple of weeks and, if it doesn’t happen, you may need a treatment to make it start.
- Take medication. If you choose this option, your doctor will give you medicine to take either by mouth or by putting it in your vagina. This usually only takes a day to start working.
- Have surgery. Your doctor will remove the fetus and other tissue all at once during a suction dilatation and curettage (or D&C) procedure.