Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks but it is most common before 12 weeks.
Approximately one in seven pregnancies will miscarry and approximately one in 3 women will experience a miscarriage during their lives. Miscarriage may occur so early that a woman is unaware she was pregnant and these miscarriages are often unreported. Signs and symptoms of miscarriage can vary considerably and may include vaginal bleeding, abdominal cramps and pain, loss of pregnancy symptoms and the passage of tissue. Sometimes however the pregnancy may continue normally despite some bleeding and pain.
Sometimes the pregnancy can fail and the uterus expels all the pregnancy tissue “complete miscarriage”. However, the uterus may only partially expel the tissue and some or all the pregnancy tissue may remain “incomplete miscarriage”.
Ultrasound is the most important tool for diagnosing miscarriage and at GCA, we can perform this investigation for you. In about two percent of pregnancies the embryo does not implant in the uterus and this is known as ectopic pregnancy. The pregnancy is often located in the fallopian tube. This condition can be associated with life threatening internal bleeding and urgent referral to hospital is required.
If an incomplete miscarriage is diagnosed, a suction D&C (‘curette’) may be performed under intravenous sedation at any of our centres. This is the treatment of choice for incomplete miscarriage and may prevent an often prolonged and unnecessary visit to a hospital. We understand that miscarriage may be an emotionally traumatic and difficult time for women so we provide a supportive environment plus a fast-tracked medical service as a day only patient (approximately 2 hour visit).
A miscarriage may cause profound grief that may be brief or long lasting. It is natural to feel loss, sadness, anger or even guilt despite the fact the result is out of your hands.
The vast majority of miscarriages occur early and a woman’s actions do not generally cause miscarriage. It is simply a chance event and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it in most cases. However, referral to expert counselling is available if required.