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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What is a miscarriage?

A miscarriage is the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy. A miscarriage may also be called a spontaneous abortion or an early pregnancy loss.

What causes a miscarriage?

The cause of your miscarriage may not be known. The following may increase the risk:

  • Being 35 years or older
  • Genetic problems in the fetus
  • Poorly controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, or thyroid disease
  • An infection such as toxoplasmosis or syphilis
  • Drinking alcohol or caffeine, smoking, or using drugs during pregnancy
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Problems with the uterus, placenta, or cervix

What are the signs and symptoms of a miscarriage?

You may not have symptoms of a miscarriage or you may have any of the following:

  • Vaginal spotting or heavy bleeding
  • Pain or cramping in your abdomen or lower back
  • Discharge of bloody fluid, tissue, or blood clots from your vagina
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness

How is a miscarriage treated?

You may not need treatment for a miscarriage. You may need any of the following if you have heavy bleeding or tissue left in your uterus after the miscarriage:

  • Medicine may be given to control bleeding and prevent infection. Medicine may also be given to control pain and prevent complications in future pregnancies.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove the tissue left in your uterus. Surgery may include a dilation and curettage (D&C) or a dilation and evacuation (D&E). Surgery may also be needed to control bleeding or prevent an infection.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

How can I care for myself after a miscarriage?

  • Do not put anything in your vagina for 2 weeks or as directed. Do not use tampons, douche, or have sex. These actions can cause infection and pain.
  • Use sanitary pads as needed. You may have light bleeding or spotting for 2 weeks.
  • Do not take a bath or go swimming for 2 weeks or as directed. These actions may increase your risk for an infection. Take showers only.
  • Rest as needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control. If you would like to prevent another pregnancy, ask your healthcare provider which type of birth control is best for you.
  • Join a support group or therapy to help you cope. A miscarriage may be very difficult for you, your partner, and other members of your family. There is no right way to feel after a miscarriage. You may feel overwhelming grief or other emotions. It may be helpful to talk to a friend, family member, or counselor about your feelings. You may worry that you could have another miscarriage. Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. Your provider may be able to help you reduce the risk for another miscarriage. Your provider may also help you find ways to cope with grief.

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:
  • March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
    1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
    White Plains , NY 10605
    Web Address:

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have foul-smelling drainage or pus coming from your vagina.
  • You have heavy vaginal bleeding and soak 1 pad or more in an hour.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You feel like your heart is beating faster than normal.
  • You feel extremely weak or dizzy.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever greater than 100.4°F or chills.
  • You have extreme sadness, grief, or feel unable to cope with what has happened.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

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 healthcare providers 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.