Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss. It usually happens within the first 13 weeks of gestation, but you can miscarry up until the 20th week. If you miscarry after 20 weeks, it’s known as a stillbirth. If you miscarry before the 20th week, it is referred to as a spontaneous abortion.

Types of Miscarriages

There are five different types of miscarriages a woman can experience. They are:

  • Threatened Miscarriage: This involves uterine bleeding early in the pregnancy. It’s usually coupled with cramps or lower back pain.
  • Incomplete Miscarriage: This involves bleeding accompanied by abdominal or back pain. The cervix is open, and the bleeding and cramps will continue if the miscarriage is not complete.
  • Complete Miscarriage: This is when the embryo dies and passes through the uterus. Bleeding, pain, and cramps usually go away pretty quickly afterwards.
  • Recurrent Miscarriage (RM): Three or more consecutive first trimester miscarriages.
  • Missed Miscarriage: This is when the embryo passes away but has not miscarried yet. Usually your physician will wait a period of time to see if you will spontaneously miscarry. If not, they may recommend a D and C or give you medicine to help pass the tissue.

Miscarriage Statistics

Some studies report that miscarriages occur in about 20 percent of all pregnancies. However, many women miscarry before they even know they’re pregnant, mistaking the miscarriage for an extra heavy menstrual cycle. Considering this, the rate of miscarriage is likely closer to 60 percent of all pregnancies. Approximately 20 percent of women who miscarry have recurring miscarriages. Recurring miscarriages affect about one percent of all couples trying to conceive.

Twenty to thirty percent of pregnant women experience some bleeding during the early stages of pregnancy due to implantation. About 50 percent of those cases end in normal pregnancies. So if you do bleed early on, check with your doctor to make sure everything is fine.

Why Miscarriage Happens

There are a number of different reasons why miscarriages happen. The most common reason is chromosomal abnormality. Other problems can include:

  • Hormonal problems
  • Infections
  • Anatomical problems (fibroids, uterine anomalies)
  • Maternal health problems (thyroid, diabetes)
  • Lifestyle (smoking, drug use, alcohol, etc.)
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Maternal age
  • Maternal trauma
  • Immunologic problems (Lupus or other immunologic diseases)

Warning Signs of Miscarriage

Warning signs that a miscarriage can or will happen include:

  • Back pain
  • Pinkish white mucus
  • Painful contractions that last five to twenty minutes
  • Tissue with clots passing through the vagina
  • Sudden decrease in signs of pregnancy
  • Brown or bright red bleeding, sometimes accompanied by cramps


This page was last updated on 06/2017

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