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Spontaneous Miscarriage

What is a spontaneous miscarriage?

A spontaneous miscarriage is the loss of a fetus (unborn baby) within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

What increases my risk of a spontaneous miscarriage?

It may not be known what causes miscarriage. The following factors may increase your risk:

  • Age of 35 years or older

  • Genetic defects in the baby

  • Poorly controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, or sexually transmitted infections

  • Certain medicines taken early in pregnancy

  • Drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks

  • Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke, or drug abuse

  • Abnormalities in the uterus

What are the signs and symptoms of spontaneous miscarriage?

  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding during the first trimester of your pregnancy

  • Pain or cramping in your abdomen or back

  • Discharge of bloody liquid or tissue from your vagina

How is spontaneous miscarriage diagnosed?

  • Blood tests: These may be run to check to see if you are still pregnant.

  • Pelvic exam: This is done to check the size of your uterus and to see if your cervix (bottom part of your uterus) has dilated (opened).

  • Pelvic ultrasound: This may be done to see if there is tissue left in your uterus (womb).

How is spontaneous miscarriage treated?

  • Dilatation & curettage: This procedure is also called D&C. It is done to remove the tissue left in your uterus. The D&C may also be needed to control bleeding or to keep you from getting an infection.

  • Surgery: You may need to have surgery if caregivers cannot control the bleeding.

Where can I find more information?

  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
    P.O. Box 70620
    Washington , DC 20024-9998
    Phone: 1- 202 - 638-5577
    Phone: 1- 800 - 673-8444
    Web Address:

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have severe abdominal pain.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have foul-smelling drainage coming from your vagina.

  • You have heavy vaginal bleeding (soaking 1 pad or more each hour).

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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