What is spontaneous abortion? A spontaneous abortion, also known as a miscarriage, is the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks of gestation. It can also be the delivery of a non viable fetus that weighs 500 grams or less.
There are several types of spontaneous abortion. In many ways it can present itself, and several things can cause them. Some are more common than others.
Losing a pregnancy is a difficult situation for expecting parents. There are so many questions that may arise. Why it happened, how to prevent it from happening again, and the risk factors that may be responsible for increasing the chances are all typical questions to have.
Table of Contents
- Spontaneous Abortion Rates
- 4 Symptoms of Spontaneous Abortion
- 7 Types of Spontaneous Abortion
- What Causes Spontaneous Abortion?
- The Aftermath of Spontaneous Abortion
- Risk Factors for Spontaneous Abortion
Spontaneous Abortion Rates
In early pregnancy, spontaneous abortions are relatively common. It is thought that over 20 percent of pregnancies terminate this way. However, the number may be higher because of undiagnosed pregnancies and miscarriages that happen before the pregnancy is known.
Most spontaneous abortions occur in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The younger the pregnancy is, the more susceptible it is to miscarriage. Some studies have shown that only 50 percent of all pregnancies will be successful. It is very possible to have a positive test before your period and get your period anyway.
After the tenth week of pregnancy, the baby will have a heartbeat and will be less likely for something to go wrong. Between 14 and 23 weeks of pregnancy, the chances are much less.
4 Symptoms of Spontaneous Abortion
There are a few tell tale signs that one is having a spontaneous abortion. These signs do not always happen. They also do not always signal a miscarriage.
1. Vaginal Bleeding
- Most women experience this in their first trimester. Unless the bleeding is heavy or dark, there may not be anything to worry about.
2. Lower Back Pain
- These cramps can be as bad as period pains or even worse. The uterus is contracting to rid the conception products, so in a way, you are going through labor.
4. Loss of Pregnancy Symptoms
- Since the pregnancy is no longer viable, your body will cease to produce symptoms of pregnancy.
7 Types of Spontaneous Abortion
Spontaneous abortion comes in 7 different types.
1. Threatened Spontaneous Abortion
- In a threatened abortion, there is a risk that the pregnancy will terminate. In more than half of cases, the pregnancy is able to be saved. This happens most commonly in the first trimester and usually, light bleeding with slight abdominal cramping may occur.
- In this, the cervix is not dilated, which is a sign of inevitable miscarriage. Also, the hCG test will show that the pregnancy is still viable.
2. Inevitable Miscarriage
- The conditions of this case are that the pregnancy cannot be saved. There is bleeding and cramping, and eventually passage of fetal tissues. The cervix will be dilated, and the os is found to be open during the examination. An ultrasound might show that the products of conception are in the lower segment of the uterus or still retained in the uterus.
3. Complete Abortion
- In complete abortions, the contents of the uterus are completely expelled. Initially, there will be severe cramping and heavy bleeding. After the passage of the products of conception, the pain and bleeding will diminish. The os will be closed upon examination, and an ultrasound will show an empty uterus.
4. Incomplete Abortion
- Persistent and severe bleeding and cramping will occur in an incomplete abortion. There may be the passage of some conception products. However, there will be products left over inside the uterus. To make it incomplete, all of the products will not be expelled naturally.
- In this type of abortion, the fetus dies, but the body does not get the message. There can be no symptoms, or simply brown discharge or bleeding can sometimes be seen. The os will be closed, and pain is unlikely.
6. Septic Abortion
- A uterine infection or fetal infection may happen. In this case, any products left over from the miscarriage will be left over, causing this disease. Fever, foul smelling discharge, persistent bleeding, chills, cramping, and pelvic pain are common symptoms of an infection.
7. Recurrent Spontaneous Abortion
- Successive spontaneous abortions are possible. With three consecutive losses, it is known as a recurrent or habitual abortion.
What Causes Spontaneous Abortion?
There are many things that can cause a miscarriage. Some of them are able to be avoided, but most cannot. Taking care of yourself and avoiding things that are bad for you are all you can really do to lower your risk of miscarriage.
1. Common Causes
- Abnormal physical development
- Even with normal chromosomes, the fetus can develop abnormally. There is no known cause for this since they are usually too small to tell. There is nothing that can be done to cause this, and there is nothing to prevent it.
- Abnormal placental development
- The placenta can fail to attach to the uterine lining, or the cells may not form the way they are supposed to. There is rarely anything that can be done to prevent or cause it.
- Chromosome problems
- This is the most common reason for pregnancy loss. The chromosomes are abnormal, and the body recognizes that there is no successful pregnancy.
2. Rare Causes
- Medications and other substances
- Very few medications affect the fetus during pregnancy. The use of alcohol and other harmful substances do, however.
- An infection with certain bacteria and viruses can cause abnormal development and lead to miscarriage.
- Disease of the mother
- Some conditions such as diabetes, thyroid diseases, systemic lupus, and other autoimmune diseases can increase the risk of miscarriage if untreated.
- Abnormal hormone level
- Hormones are pretty important when it comes to pregnancy. On rare occasions, the mother will not produce enough of the pregnancy hormones that are needed to sustain the pregnancy.
- Uterine problems
- If your uterus did not develop normally, there might be some issues. Fibroid tumors or leiomyomas can form, causing problems with implantation.
- Cervical problems
- You may have an incompetent uterus, which means that it is too weak to hold in a developing baby.
- Abnormal parental chromosomes
- Sometimes the parent has abnormal genes that do not affect them, but they can influence offspring. Abnormal match up of the genetic material causes abnormalities that may not allow the pregnancy to continue.
The Aftermath of Spontaneous Abortion
After having a spontaneous abortion, you may want to take it easy for a few days. Avoid sex for two weeks at the least, until the bleeding has stopped. You will probably have a check up in a few weeks, especially if there were complications.
Your emotional recovery is just as important as the physical. Tend to your wounds and take as long as you need. There is no appropriate amount of time to mourn the loss of a pregnancy, but be sure to look out for symptoms of postpartum depression. It can be severe if you let it go too far.
Risk Factors for Spontaneous Abortion
There are certain situations in which there is a higher chance of miscarriage. These situations can be because of something the mother is doing, or because of something underlying that has not been treated.
- Miscarriage is more frequent in women 30 and over, and even more so at 35.
- Number of births
- The number of live births causes your risk of miscarriage to increase just a little bit.
- Previous miscarriage
- Having a miscarriage can increase your risk of a miscarriage in the future. However, this is not likely, and one miscarriage does not mean you may have another.
- Cigarette smoking
- Smoking more than ten cigarettes a day increases your risk. Also, smoking, in general, can cause birth defects.
- Alcohol consumption
- Even small amounts of alcohol can have a negative effect on your pregnancy. It not only increases your risk of miscarriage, but it can cause birth defects.
- Illicit drug use
- This should go without saying, but any hard drug use seriously threatens any pregnancy.
- Trauma to the uterus
- Any blunt trauma to the uterus can make it vulnerable. However, minor injury has not been found to increase the risk.
- Uterine abnormalities or surgery
- Connective tissue disorders
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Antiphospholipid antibodies
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Working or having a partner who works near environmental toxins can increase your risk. Avoid these situations as much as possible.
Spontaneous abortion is a common occurrence in early pregnancies. This event can be heartbreaking, and may be caused by a number of things or nothing at all. It is more common for there to be no cause found.