Spontaneous Abortion commonly referred to as “Miscarriage” is when you lose a pregnancy before 20 weeks. This happens most times in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the fetus is not yet viable. 85 percent of miscarriages as estimated happen before the 12th week and it’s possible a woman may have a miscarriage before she knows she is pregnant. When you lose a pregnancy after 20 weeks, it is usually referred to as stillbirth and when this happens, know that it is not your fault and it’s very likely that you’ll be able to have a baby in the future. One of the most common complications associated with early pregnancy is spontaneous abortion and sadly, around one-quarter of all pregnancies result in this condition.
Quick facts about Spontaneous Abortion
- Miscarriage is common
- Bleeding and cramping are miscarriage symptoms
- You have treatment options post-miscarriage
- You don’t need any special tests after a single miscarriage
- Feeling of guilt are expected after a miscarriage
- Grieving after a miscarriage is normal and healthy
- Most women who miscarry can get pregnant again
What are the warning signs of Spontaneous Abortion?
The most common sign of miscarriage are usually vaginal spotting or bleeding and this can vary from slight brownish discharge to heavy bleeding. Other symptoms include:
- Discharge of tissue or fluid from the vagina
- Severe abdominal pain or cramps
- Mild to severe back pain
- Feeling of light-headedness
- Weight loss
What causes a spontaneous abortion?
A miscarriage can happen for a range of reasons and they include placental and chromosomal problems, womb structural abnormality, polycystic ovarian syndrome, weakened cervix, underlying health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, HIV, malaria, chlamydia etc and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol, and use of illegal drugs.
Diagnosis of Spontaneous abortion.
Diagnostic tests include:
- Transvaginal ultrasound scan
- Blood tests
- Pelvic examination.
Spontaneous Abortion and Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg settles and grows outside the inner lining of the womb, instead of inside and if this is left untreated, it can be fatal causing internal bleeding, with the risk of losing the baby.
Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include severe abdominal pain, dizziness, light-headedness.
Spontaneous Abortion & Types
- Complete Abortion. Here, the embryo and all the products of conception empties out of the womb. Pain and bleeding also subside immediately.
- Incomplete Abortion. Here, there is an open cervix accompanied with abdominal or back pain with bleeding as well. This miscarriage is considered inevitable.
- Missed Abortion. The embryo is dead already and the woman feels no symptoms such as bleeding or pain.
- Recurrent Abortion. You have a recurrent miscarriage when there are three or more miscarriages during the first trimester.
- Threatened Abortion. Here, the cervix remains closed but the woman may experience some bleeding in early pregnancy with lower backache. Pregnancy continues in this case.
Treatment Options for Spontaneous abortion.
When you have a spontaneous abortion, you have the option of different treatment approaches, which are all equally effective.
- Wait and let the pregnancy tissue that remains in the womb pass out naturally. This may take up to two weeks.
- Use of a class of medication (prostaglandin) under the guidance of an Obstetrics/Gynecologist specialist which will help to expel the tissue within one week.
- A manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) can be performed which may be advisable if you are bleeding heavily or an infection is suspected.
Myths about Spontaneous abortion
In many cases, there is no apparent cause for a miscarriage but there are several misconceptions as to what causes a miscarriage. Some people believe that having sex or exercise can result to miscarriage but this is not evidence based.
Prevention of Spontaneous abortion
- Eat a healthful diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy.
- Do not smoke, drink alcohol or use illicit drugs during pregnancy.