Early miscarriage: Symptoms, Causes, and How to Cope with it
Miscarriage within 20 weeks of conceiving is a common issue related to pregnancy. The American College Obstetricians and Gynecologists states, approximately 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies will end in miscarriage. It’s certainly a good idea to learn more about the causes and symptoms, as well as how to cope with it.
The Most Common Causes of Miscarriage
After an early pregnancy loss, oftentimes women place the fault on themselves or their lifestyle, but in the majority of cases, there is nothing that could’ve been done to prevent it. Common myths of the causes of miscarriage are exercise, sex or a daily cup of a caffeinated beverage.
1. Chromosomal Abnormalities
When both the sperm and egg meet during fertilization, each of them brings 23 chromosomes together to create 23 matched pairs of chromosomes. Minor chromosome abnormalities can stop the embryo from growing, resulting in a spontaneous abortion. As women age, it may result in these incompatibilities and miscarriages occurring more often. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the most common cause of miscarriage stems from a genetic abnormality in the embryo.
2. Hormone imbalances
15 percent of miscarriages are the result of unbalanced hormones. For instance, deficient levels of progesterone can prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted into the uterus.
The LH hormone is a key part of the ovulation process. The LH your body produces is responsible for triggering ovulation. A tracking device like Mira Fertility tracker can help understand your personal hormone patterns for a precise ovulation window, which is helpful for those trying to conceive again.
3. Abnormal Growth in the Uterine
Abnormal growths of certain areas in the uterine can disrupt blood flow to the fetus. Some women are born with a septum, an excess uterine tissue that can be related to miscarriages.
Some women have bands of scar tissue in their uterus from previous surgeries and second-trimester abortions, which can cause a blood clot to the fetal tissue. Fortunately, most uterine issues can be treated by a doctor using specialized X-Rays, and/or a dilation and curettage procedure.
4. High-Temperature Fever
Regardless of your healthiness, developing a high fever with a body temperature of over 102 degrees Fahrenheit, during early pregnancy, can increase the risk of a miscarriage. The most crucial stage of stable body temperature is before 6 weeks of pregnancy.
Symptoms of a miscarriage
1. Bleeding and Cramping
Vaginal bleeding and cramping are the most common symptoms of miscarriage. During the first trimester, light bleeding or spotting is common and is not a definite sign of a miscarriage. There can also be growing pains nearing the end of the first trimester as your ligaments stretch and get accustomed to pregnancy.
Bleeding can vary from light spots to heavy bleeding that can be more than a normal period. Sometimes the amount of blood loss can be overwhelming, yet it’s completely natural.
Cramping pains can either happen alongside the bleeding or come on its own. The cramping pains can range from mild to severe. Cramping pains can be described as a dull ache, sharp cramps, or an aching back.
2. Lack, or Complete Loss of Pregnancy-Related Symptoms
Some women may feel that they’re simply not pregnant anymore into their cycle. Typical symptoms like tender breasts or sickness may simply disappear.
It’s also normal for some women to have no symptoms at all of a miscarriage. This type of miscarriage is called a missed miscarriage.
3. Vaginal Discharge
Having an increase in vaginal discharge while pregnant is common. A healthy discharge looks thin, clear or egg white.
Signs of infection:
- Foul smell
- Discoloration: green, brown or yellow
- Vagina feels itchy and sore
- Pain when urinating
4. Ectopic Pregnancy
Miscarriages can result from a pregnancy developing outside of the womb. This is called an ectopic pregnancy. This can be a serious issue because of the higher risk of internal bleeding.
Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy:
- Consistent abdominal pain on one side of the body.
- Vaginal bleeding that is dark and watery
- Pain in the shoulder tips
- Fainting and lightheadedness
- Excess vomiting and diarrhea
Ectopic pregnancy symptoms usually happen between week 5 and week 14 of pregnancy. You can also have negative urine-based pregnancy tests even though these symptoms are still present.
Coping with a Miscarriage
Allow yourself to express your emotions, miscarriage is like losing a loved one, you can expect to experience a wide range of strong emotions. Finding a solid support system can help you recover physically and emotionally, which can help you prepare for trying to conceive your next time around.
1. Reach Out to Family and Friends
The grieving process can be an exhausting one. Reach out for emotional support from family and friends to help with household chores and childcare if need be. Also, opening up about your emotions regarding the situation can help expedite the healing process.
2. Find an Online Support Group
Many people have miscarriages, even though it is not often spoken about in public, and is often a taboo subject. While your support network can be there for you, it can prove helpful to connect with others who have experienced the same exact loss you had.
3. Speak with a Therapist
There are therapists and counselors that specialize in grief counseling to help you recover and overcome emotional issues. You can also go to couples counseling as well to help you and your partner get on the same page about the pregnancy process.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Banafsheh Kashani, MD, FACOG
Banafsheh Kashani, M.D., FACOG is a board-certified OB/GYN and specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Eden Fertility Centers, and has been treating couples and individuals with infertility since 2014. Prior to joining Eden Centers for Advanced Fertility, she was practicing as a top fertility specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County and Reproductive Fertility Center. Dr. Kashani has received numerous awards throughout her years of study and medical training.
Dr. Kashani has conducted extensive research in female reproduction, with a specific focus on the endometrium and implantation. Additionally, Dr. Kashani has authored papers in the areas of fertility preservation, and fertility in women with PCOS and Turners syndrome. She also was part of a large SART-CORS study evaluating the trend in frozen embryo transfers and success rates.
Dr. Kashani is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In addition, she is a diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an active member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and Pacific Coast Reproductive Society (PCRS). She is also a member of the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI).