Miscarriage is called spontaneous abortion medically and it happens when pregnancy is lost before twenty weeks. The fetus or embryo cannot survive outside of the uterus on its own at this early stage of pregnancy. Many women who have miscarriage don’t know that it occurs quite often, with one to two in every ten pregnancies ending this way. As a matter of fact, eight out of ten miscarriages will happen during the three first months of pregnancy. The following write-up will highlight the signs and causes of miscarriage to help you understand more.
First, you should know that there are different types of miscarriages. These include:
- Inevitable miscarriage, where pregnancy cannot continue because of increased bleeding and the cervix starts to open.
- Threatened miscarriage, where a woman bleeds with or without some mild cramps and the cervix remains closed. Fifty percent of these miscarriages end with loss of pregnancy. The pregnancy will go on normally in the other half as the bleeding stops.
- Complete miscarriage, where all of the pregnancy tissue is discharged from the uterus.
- Incomplete abortion, where some of the pregnancy tissue is discharged from the uterus while some remains inside. Treatment is needed at times to remove the leftover tissue.
- Missed abortion, where pregnancy ends but the tissue is left inside the uterus. The tissue usually comes out by itself eventually, but sometimes treatment is needed.
Signs and Causes of a Miscarriage
Some of the signs of a miscarriage include severe abdominal pain, vaginal spotting or bleeding, dull pressure, ache or pain in the lower back, severe cramping, and change in the vaginal discharge. A condition that is not as serious as a miscarriage can bring on these symptoms, so it is always best to consult a health care provider to be on the safe side.
Some women blame themselves when they have a miscarriage, but it is rarely caused by exercise, mild fall, sex, or anything else that you might do while pregnant. The causes are not well understood and it might be even difficult for your healthcare provider to know what triggers a particular type of miscarriage. However, there are some things which generally cause a miscarriage.
The fetus or embryo has a chromosome and it can cause abnormal development. This usually occurs by chance once the fertilized grows and divides, not generally a sign of a situation that could lead to problems in pregnancies later on. This problem is known for causing at least half of the reported miscarriages.
Other possible causes include:
- Severe chronic illness, including poorly controlled diabetes, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Immune system disorders
- Severe kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
- Congenital heart disease
- Certain medications, including Accutane the acne drug
- Severe malnutrition
- Abnormalities inside the uterus, such as uterine fibroids or scar tissue. This can trigger late miscarriages which happen after three months.
- Severe trauma and serious infections.
- Overweight or underweight problems.
- Lifestyle factors, including smoking, consuming alcoholic beverages and high amounts of caffeine, or using illegal drugs such as cocaine.
- Hormonal problems
- Exposure to workplace and environmental hazards, including high levels of toxic agents or radiation.
- Cervix becoming incompetent; starts to widen and open-up too early, during the middle of a pregnancy with no signs of labor or pain.
In addition to the above, women are at a much greater risk of having a miscarriage if they already had one or two in a row. You will also have a higher risk of having a miscarriage as you get older.
Some studies show that women in their twenties have a twelve to fifteen per cent risk of having a miscarriage and this figure will increase to around twenty-five per cent for women who are forty years old. The increased occurrence of chromosomal abnormalities will contribute to the age-related miscarriage risk.
It is important to note that there is no evidence to show that high stress levels or sexual or physical activities can cause miscarriage.
Miscarriage Diagnosis and Treatment
In order to diagnose a miscarriage, your healthcare provider would perform an ultrasound test and a pelvic exam. If you had a complete miscarriage and your uterus is totally clear, no further treatment will be required. In case the uterus is not cleared completely, a dilation and curettage procedure will be done. During this procedure, your cervix will be dilated and all the remaining placental or fetal tissue is going to be removed gently from the uterus.
Aside from that procedure, you can be given certain medications for your body to discharge the contents inside the uterus. The latter option might be more suitable for someone with a condition that is otherwise stable and she wants to avoid a surgical procedure.
If the test did not confirm a miscarriage and you are seeing the signs, you could be prescribed bed rest for several days and be admitted to stay in the hospital for overnight observation. Sometimes the treatment of a chronic illness will improve a woman’s chances of having a successful pregnancy.