What are Missed Miscarriages?
A missed miscarriage, also known as a silent or incomplete miscarriage, is a pregnancy loss in which the fetus has died, but the body has not yet expelled the pregnancy tissue.
Approximately 15-20% of recognized pregnancies result in a miscarriage, typically within the first 13 weeks. A missed miscarriage, a type of early pregnancy loss, occurs in roughly 3% of recognized pregnancies. In this case, the mother may not have typical symptoms such as cramping and bleeding.
Consequently, missed miscarriages are often discovered incidentally during a first-trimester ultrasound, between 11 and 14 weeks.
During routine prenatal appointments, doctors often detect missed miscarriages when they find an absence of fetal cardiac activity, even though the woman experiences no typical symptoms of miscarriage.
How common are missed miscarriages?
Estimates suggest that 10-20% of all miscarriages are missed miscarriages, but the exact prevalence remains unclear because some may go unnoticed and only doctors may discover them during routine prenatal appointments.
It is important to note that each woman’s experience with a missed miscarriage may differ and seeking medical attention is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment.
What causes missed miscarriages?
The exact cause of a missed miscarriage is often unclear and can be due to a combination of factors, including:
- Chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus
- Hormonal imbalances
- Structural problems in the uterus or cervix
- Blood clotting disorders
- Immune system disorders
It’s important to note that in some cases, no cause can be identified. If you suspect a missed miscarriage, it’s crucial to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.
What are the signs of a missed miscarriage?
A missed miscarriage, also known as a silent or delayed miscarriage, is when a pregnancy ends but the body does not naturally expel the fetus and placenta. The following are signs that may indicate a missed miscarriage:
- Absence of pregnancy symptoms (such as morning sickness or breast tenderness)
- No longer feeling pregnant (such as no longer feeling movements or kicks)
- Light spotting or bleeding
- A decrease in the size of the uterus
Note that other factors, such as an ectopic pregnancy or a threatened miscarriage, can also cause these symptoms. If you suspect a missed miscarriage, seek medical attention promptly.
How is a missed miscarriage diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose a missed miscarriage through ultrasound, which shows the fetus has stopped developing or has died, or by detecting the absence of the baby’s heartbeat.
In some cases, the diagnosis may be made after a woman has vaginal bleeding. And a doctor finds that the cervix has opened or the uterus has started to empty.
In some cases, a woman may also have symptoms such as lower back pain or abdominal cramping, which may suggest a missed miscarriage. A doctor may also perform a physical exam to confirm the diagnosis.
What are the treatment options for a missed miscarriage?
Unfortunately, once a miscarriage starts, neither you nor your doctor can do anything about it.
Following diagnosis, doctors focus on ensuring the embryo passes or removes from the woman’s body, and they also ensure the miscarriage doesn’t cause further complications like uterine infection.
Your doctor will outline several possible treatment options for you:
The treatment options for a missed miscarriage include:
- Expectant management: This involves waiting for the pregnancy tissue to pass naturally, which can take several days to several weeks.
- Medication: A doctor may prescribe medication to help the pregnancy tissue pass more quickly.
- Dilation and curettage (D&C): This is a surgical procedure to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus.
- Induction of labor: In some cases, a doctor may induce labor to deliver the fetus and pregnancy tissue.
The choice of treatment depends on various factors, including the woman’s health, the gestational age of the pregnancy, and the woman’s personal preferences. A doctor can discuss the options and the risks and benefits of each treatment to help the woman make an informed decision.
Trying again after a missed miscarriage: how long to wait?
The recommended length of time to wait before trying to conceive again after a missed miscarriage varies and can depend on several factors, including the woman’s physical and emotional recovery.
In general, doctors recommend waiting for one to three menstrual cycles before trying to conceive again, as this allows time for the uterus to heal and for hormonal levels to return to normal. However, in some cases, a doctor may advise waiting for a longer period of time, such as six months, especially if there were complications during the pregnancy or delivery.
It’s important for a woman to discuss her individual situation with her doctor, who can provide personalized recommendations based on her health and medical history.
A missed miscarriage is often detected during the first-trimester exam, usually between 11 and 14 weeks. After a heartbeat has been detected at the eight-week scan, the chance of a miscarriage drops to only 2%. The chance falls to below 1% after 10 weeks.
It’s common to have no symptoms with a missed miscarriage.
You may also notice a brownish discharge.
abdominal cramps or pain…
discharge of fluid or tissue…
lack of pregnancy symptoms…
Usually, a missed miscarriage will be detected at the first 12-week scan. As such, it’s possible for one to go undetected for between three to four weeks.
It is possible to experience a miscarriage without bleeding or spotting. Other signs that a person may be experiencing a miscarriage include cramps, pain, loss of pregnancy symptoms, and passing discharge, which may be stringy and/or whitish-pink in color. Any, all, or none of these symptoms may be present.
If you have a missed miscarriage you’ll need to have the treatment and there are 3 options available: waiting for the miscarriage to happen by itself naturally (expectant management) taking medicine to help things along (medical management) having surgery to remove the pregnancy (surgical management).