Overview

A miscarriage is an unexpected loss of pregnancy before the 20th week of pregnancy. Most miscarriages happen very early in the pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

Factors that may contribute to miscarriage include the following:

Signs of a miscarriage include vaginal spotting, abdominal pain or cramping, and fluid or tissue passing from the vagina. Bleeding can be a symptom of miscarriage, but many women also have it in early pregnancy and don't miscarry. To be sure, contact your health care provider right away if you have bleeding.

Women who miscarry early in their pregnancy usually do not need any treatment. In some cases, there is tissue left in the uterus. Doctors use a procedure called a dilatation and curettage (D&C) or medicines to remove the tissue.

Counseling may help you cope with your grief. Later, if you do decide to try again, work closely with your health care provider to lower the risks. Many women who have a miscarriage go on to have healthy babies.*

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What Is Recurrent Pregnancy Loss?

Recurrent pregnancy loss—also called repeated pregnancy loss or repeated miscarriage—is when you have three or more miscarriages, one right after the other. Most women miscarry in the first trimester or early in the second trimester. Many women have miscarriages. In fact, for any pregnant woman, she has a 15 to 20 percent chance of having a miscarriage.

It’s normal to worry if you’ve lost a pregnancy. But if you’ve only had one miscarriage, you shouldn’t worry that you’ll never have a healthy pregnancy. If you’ve had only one miscarriage, you are just as likely to carry your next pregnancy to full term as women who’ve never had a miscarriage.

Your chance of having additional miscarriages goes up if you’ve had more than two miscarriages. Your chances of having many miscarriages also increases if you’re 40 or older. If you are 40 years old or more and have had multiple miscarriages, you have a much higher chance of having additional miscarriages compared to younger women.

How Quickly Can You Get Pregnant After a Miscarriage?

Fortunately, you have a good chance of having a healthy baby even if you’ve suffered through many miscarriages. Many women find support from counseling services and learning as much about miscarriage as they can.

If you’d like to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy, take the following steps:

  • Live a healthy lifestyle
  • Take a folic acid supplement regularly
  • Stop smoking
  • Stay at healthy weight
  • Drink only a little bit of alcohol, or don’t drink at all
  • Limit how much caffeine you drink each day

*Courtesy: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.