What is a Miscarriage

Updated at: Dec 03, 2013
What is a Miscarriage

A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks, the point at which a fetus might be able to survive outside the womb.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
PregnancyWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Aug 25, 2011

Miscarriage can be defined as spontaneous abortion or loss of pregnancy before 24 weeks of gestation. According to mayoclinic.com, about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.

What is Miscarriage

The commonest cause of miscarriages is chromosome problems which make it impossible for the baby to develop and grow in the uterus. However, in most cases these problems are unrelated to the mother or father's genes.

Some other common causes for miscarriage are:

  • Smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins.
  • Hormonal problems.
  • Infection.
  • Obesity.
  • Physical abnormalities in the mother's reproductive organs (such as for example with the structure of the uterus, the strength of the cervix which holds the weight of the growing pregnancy).
  • Abnormal immune response of the body.
  • Certain systemic diseases in the mother such as uncontrolled diabetes, lupus.


Studies have noted that about half of all fertilised eggs are aborted spontaneously, and most of them usually before the woman realises she is pregnant. After pregnancy is confirmed the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%. Most miscarriages occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy.



Age - The risk of miscarriage increases beginning by 30 years of age, becoming higher between 35 and 40 (20-35% chance of miscarriage), and highest after 40 (up to a 50% chance of miscarriage).

History – The likelihood of miscarriage is more in women with history of miscarriages.



Miscarriage is a general term; however there are several different types of miscarriages.  Your doctor can determine the different types of miscarriage based on your signs and symptoms and by feeling the cervix (the neck of the womb).

Complete abortion - All of the products of conception is expelled from  the body.
Incomplete abortion: Part of the products of conception are expelled from the body and some part is left back in the uterus.

Inevitable abortion - Symptoms of miscarriage start and cannot be stopped with medical intervention (so the miscarriage will happen).

Infected (septic) abortion
- Infection is present in the lining of the womb, uterus, and any remaining products of conception.

Missed abortion
- There is loss of pregnancy but the products of conception are not expelled from the body.


If a woman has undergone miscarriage, it does not imply that she will not get pregnant again. In fact, most women who undergo miscarriage tend to have successful pregnancies later. In fact, the British Medical Journal says that women, who conceive within six months of their miscarriage, tend to have a successful one.



Read more articles on Miscarriage.



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