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Miscarriage symptoms, risk factors and prevention

Miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion – it is spontaneous interruption of pregnancy development. According to medical statistics, about 15-20% of clinically confirmed pregnancies end up spontaneously (aborted). Several scientific studies suggest that the real frequency of miscarriage could be much higher, since a certain amount of early miscarriages occur during the menstrual periods and many women are not even aware of early interrupted pregnancies (very early spontaneous abortions).

Miscarriage Symptoms

The most common symptom of spontaneous abortion is vaginal bleeding. This can vary from light spotting to bleeding that is heavier than your period. You may also see blood clots, a brown discharge, or other tissue that isn’t clearly identifiable.

You can often get cramping and pain in your pelvis or back. You may find that the usual symptoms of pregnancy, such as breast tenderness, feeling sick and having to pass urine more frequently than usual, stop unexpectedly.

Sometimes there are no symptoms and your spontaneous abortion may only be discovered in a routine scan.

Miscarriage symptoms, risk factors and prevention

Miscarriage Risk factors

  • Smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy loss, and some studies have even shown that the risk of spontaneous abortion increases with paternal smoking.
  • Other factors, such as alcohol use, fever, use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs around the time of embryo implantation, and caffeine use have all been suggested to increase the risk of spontaneous abortion
  • Alcohol is a well known teratogen (chemical factor which can damage fetus development). Pregnant women should avoid any use of alcohol.

Miscarriage prevention

Every pregnancy is at risk of spontaneous interruption; however, if you drink alcohol or smoke, your risk of having one is higher.

You can help to reduce your risk of pregnancy problems by eating a balanced diet, losing any excess weight and by not drinking too much alcohol or smoking.


Normal exercises, work and sexual intercourse do not increase the risk for miscarriage.

However, in some cases above mentioned activities should be avoided. It is important for women with past history of miscarriage and/or premature delivery and other specific obstetrical conditions might fall under this category.

Threatened miscarriage

If you have vaginal bleeding but tests suggest that your pregnancy is still progressing, your doctor may recommend:

You will be advised to temporarily avoid sexual intercourse (pelvic rest) and heavy activity. Your doctor may recommend bed rest. But most research shows that bed rest does not prevent miscarriage.

You may be treated with the hormone progesterone to help maintain the pregnancy. This treatment, though, may serve only to delay a miscarriage and has not been proved effective for preventing a miscarriage.

Avoiding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
You will be advised to avoid aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. Use only acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, for nonprescription pain relief.

Miscarriage treatment

There is no medical treatment to stop or prevent an inevitable miscarriage. The physician generally directs the woman with symptoms to rest in bed and abstain from sexual intercourse and douching. As noted above, in the case of incomplete abortion, prompt surgical removal of any products of conception is required.

It is normal for a woman to feel depressed by the loss of an expected child and counseling may be very helpful. On the advice of her physician, it is usually safe for her to attempt to conceive a soon time afterward (six to eight weeks later).

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