Spontaneous Abortion

Spontaneous abortion is a very common experience for women. It is estimated that between 25-50% of conceptions spontaneously abort. Researchers do not have an exact figure due to the fact that when this occurs very early on, many women do not know that they were ever pregnant.

Many other women have a suspicion that they were pregnant and aborted, but are not certain. A late, heavy, painful "period" is often what is experienced in a mid-first trimester spontaneous abortion. Some women will see large clots or tissue clumps. The woman may have also felt some of the symptoms of early pregnancy beforehand. (see The Symptoms of Pregnancy).

The only ways to be certain is to have a blood (as opposed to urine) pregnancy test immediately after the symptoms and a pelvic ultrasound. The blood test confirms the pregnancy in its earliest stages, and the ultrasound confirms that there is no longer an embryo. Alternatively, if there is a large clot or piece of tissue, it can be analyzed in the lab to see whether or not it is an embryo.

The majority of women who spontaneously abort do not have either of these procedures done. And most need little or no medical intervention. In most cases, the uterine lining sheds itself and all the embrionic tissues from the body. The woman's hormones will revert back to the non-pregnant, menstrual cycle shortly after. The majority of women have no damage whatsoever, regardless of whether or not they know for certain. In fact, the cases which are uncertain have a lower rate of complications, because these usually occur at an early stage, when it is easier for the body to clear the abortion by itself.

In some cases, the embryo or fetus may be only partially expelled. Also the spot on the uterine wall where it was attached may continue to bleed. Infections and excessive bleeding are the main complications of spontaneous abortion. If the woman experiences pelvic pain, heavy vaginal bleeding, or the symptoms of an infection (fever, malaise) she should go to an emergency room. These can be treated relatively easy with antibiotics and/or a D&C (a minor surgery to remove the uterine lining and any remaining embryonic fragments) and other medications. In the vast majority of even the complicated cases, there are no long term effects. As spontaneous abortion is so common, a woman should not worry about her future fertility if this occurs once or twice. While it is very emotional to experience each time, unless it occurs more than three times in a row there is no reason to think it is due to anything other than bad luck.

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Possible miscarriage?

Miscarriage Prevention and Information

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