4 Common Miscarriage Questions, Answered
By By Malia Jacobson; Illustration by Thomas Fuchs
The issue affects nearly one in three pregnancies. Chances are, you probably know someone who has miscarried. Here, experts answer your most common miscarriage questions.
What exactly is a miscarriage?
In medical terms, it’s a spontaneous loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks (after that, it’s called a stillbirth). The majority are caused by random chromosomal flaws (though there are other external factors that can play a part) – parts of embryo genes that are missing, damaged or in the wrong place. Often, the first signs you’re miscarrying are bleeding and cramping, which happen as the uterus contracts and empties itself. That said, some women have no symptoms and discover a miscarriage only when an ultrasound shows the foetus has no heartbeat. In such cases, a doctor may need to surgically clear out the uterus with a procedure called a D&C (see “No More TMI”).
I peed on a test stick and got a positive; two days later, another one was negative. Did I miscarry?
It’s likely. Up to 75 percent of miscarriages are so-called chemical pregnancies, in which a fertilised egg doesn’t implant in the uterus and is expelled in a process that feels just like a period. It used to be that women never even knew they’d had a very early miscarriage, but today’s ubersensitive OTC tests can detect the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) days before a missed period. Most docs still advise waiting to test until the day your period is due to eliminate stress and confusion.
Does spotting always mean miscarriage?
More than a quarter of expectant mothers spot in the first trimester, yet fewer than half of those will miscarry. Hormonal changes can cause minor spotting, as can having sex, which might irritate the cervix. If this happens, check in with your doc, but call right away if the bleeding is heavier (enough to fill a panty liner) or if you have painful cramps or pass clots larger than a pencil eraser.
I miscarried a few months back. Will it happen again?
One miscarriage doesn’t up your risk for another. A full 95 percent of women who miscarried a single time and 70 percent of women who lost two or more pregnancies, go on to have healthy babies. If you’ve had three or more miscarriages, your doctor may want to test for genetic, hormonal or immune-system problems.
Looking for more information on miscarriage? Here are 6 factors that can contribute to the loss of a pregnancy and if you’ve suffered a lose here’s some pro advice to help you move on emotionally and physically