Pelvis | Obstetrics and Gynaecology | Miscarriage (Disease)


A miscarriage is any pregnancy that ends spontaneously before the fetus can survive. A miscarriage is medically referred to as a spontaneous abortion. The World Health Organization defines this unsurvivable state as an embryo or fetus weighing 500 grams or less, which typically corresponds to a fetal age (gestational age) of 20 to 22 weeks or less.

Causes and Risk factors

Miscarriage occurs in about 15% to 20% of all recognized pregnancies, and usually occurs before the 13th week of pregnancy. With the development of highly sensitive assays for hCG levels that can detect an early pregnancy even prior to the expected next period (menstruation), researchers have been able to show that around 60% to 70% of all pregnancies (recognized and unrecognized) are lost.

Because the loss occurs so early, many miscarriages occur without the woman ever having known she was pregnant. Of those miscarriages that occur before the eighth week, 30% have no fetus associated with the sac or placenta. This condition is called blighted ovum, and many women are surprised to learn that there was never an embryo inside the sac.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If a person is having a threatened miscarriage, the doctor may recommend resting until the bleeding or pain subsides. He/she may be asked to avoid exercise and sex as well. Although these steps havent been proved to reduce the risk of miscarriage, they may reduce bleeding and improve the comfort.

Its also a good idea to avoid traveling - especially to areas where it would be difficult to receive prompt medical care. With ultrasound, it is now much easier to determine whether the embryo has died or was never formed. Either finding means that a miscarriage will definitely occur. ...