Miscarriage - Diagnosis and treatment (2023)


Your health care provider might do a variety of tests:

  • Pelvic exam. Your health care provider might check to see if your cervix has begun to dilate.
  • Ultrasound. During an ultrasound, your health care provider will check for a fetal heartbeat and determine if the embryo is developing as it should be. If a diagnosis can't be made, you might need to have another ultrasound in about a week.
  • Blood tests. Your health care provider might check the level of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), in your blood and compare it to previous measurements. If the pattern of changes in your HCG level is abnormal, it could indicate a problem. Your health care provider might check to see if you're anemic — which could happen if you've experienced significant bleeding — and may also check your blood type.
  • Tissue tests. If you have passed tissue, it can be sent to a lab to confirm that a miscarriage has occurred — and that your symptoms aren't related to another cause.
  • Chromosomal tests. If you've had two or more previous miscarriages, your health care provider may order blood tests for both you and your partner to determine if your chromosomes are a factor.

Possible diagnoses include:

  • Threatened miscarriage. If you're bleeding but your cervix hasn't begun to dilate, there is a threat of miscarriage. Such pregnancies often proceed without any further problems.
  • Inevitable miscarriage. If you're bleeding, cramping and your cervix is dilated, a miscarriage is considered inevitable.
  • Incomplete miscarriage. If you pass fetal or placental material but some remains in your uterus, it's considered an incomplete miscarriage.
  • Missed miscarriage. In a missed miscarriage, the placental and embryonic tissues remain in the uterus, but the embryo has died or was never formed.
  • Complete miscarriage. If you have passed all the pregnancy tissues, it's considered a complete miscarriage. This is common for miscarriages occurring before 12 weeks.
  • Septic miscarriage. If you develop an infection in your uterus, it's known as a septic miscarriage. This can be a severe infection and demands immediate care.

More Information

  • Pelvic exam
  • Ultrasound


Threatened miscarriage

For a threatened miscarriage, your health care provider might recommend resting until the bleeding or pain subsides. Bed rest hasn't been proved to prevent miscarriage, but it's sometimes prescribed as a safeguard. You might be asked to avoid exercise and sex, too. Although these steps haven't been proved to reduce the risk of miscarriage, they might improve your comfort.

(Video) MISCARRIAGE, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

In some cases, it's also a good idea to postpone traveling — especially to areas where it would be difficult to receive prompt medical care. Ask your health care provider if it would be wise to delay any upcoming trips you've planned.


With ultrasound, it's now much easier to determine whether an embryo has died or was never formed. Either finding means that a miscarriage will definitely occur. In this situation, you might have several choices:

  • Expectant management. If you have no signs of infection, you might choose to let the miscarriage progress naturally. Usually this happens within a couple of weeks of determining that the embryo has died. Unfortunately, it might take up to three or four weeks. This can be an emotionally difficult time. If expulsion doesn't happen on its own, medical or surgical treatment will be needed.
  • Medical treatment. If, after a diagnosis of certain pregnancy loss, you'd prefer to speed the process, medication can cause your body to expel the pregnancy tissue and placenta. The medication can be taken by mouth or by insertion in the vagina. Your health care provider might recommend inserting the medication vaginally to increase its effectiveness and minimize side effects such as nausea and diarrhea. For about 70 to 90 percent of women, this treatment works within 24 hours.
  • Surgical treatment. Another option is a minor surgical procedure called suction dilation and curettage (D&C). During this procedure, your health care provider dilates your cervix and removes tissue from the inside of your uterus. Complications are rare, but they might include damage to the connective tissue of your cervix or the uterine wall. Surgical treatment is needed if you have a miscarriage accompanied by heavy bleeding or signs of an infection.

Physical recovery

In most cases, physical recovery from miscarriage takes only a few hours to a couple of days. In the meantime, call your health care provider if you experience heavy bleeding, fever or abdominal pain.

You may ovulate as soon as two weeks after a miscarriage. Expect your period to return within four to six weeks. You can start using any type of contraception immediately after a miscarriage. However, avoid having sex or putting anything in your vagina — such as a tampon — for two weeks after a miscarriage.

Future pregnancies

It's possible to become pregnant during the menstrual cycle immediately after a miscarriage. But if you and your partner decide to attempt another pregnancy, make sure you're physically and emotionally ready. Ask your health care provider for guidance about when you might try to conceive.

(Video) MISCARRIAGE, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Miscarriage is usually a one-time occurrence. Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy after miscarriage. Less than 5 percent of women have two consecutive miscarriages, and only 1 percent have three or more consecutive miscarriages.

If you experience multiple miscarriages, generally two or three in a row, consider testing to identify any underlying causes. Such causes could include problems with the uterus, blood clotting or chromosomes. If the cause of your miscarriages can't be identified, don't lose hope. About 60 to 80 percent of women with unexplained repeated miscarriages go on to have healthy pregnancies.

More Information

Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic

(Video) How to Avoid Miscarriage - MISCARRIAGE, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this condition.

Coping and support

Emotional healing can take much longer than physical healing. Miscarriage can be a heart-wrenching loss that others around you might not fully understand. Your emotions might range from anger and guilt to despair. Give yourself time to grieve the loss of your pregnancy, and seek help from loved ones.

You'll likely never forget your hopes and dreams surrounding this pregnancy, but in time acceptance might ease your pain. Talk to your health care provider if you're feeling profound sadness or depression.

Preparing for your appointment

If you have signs or symptoms of miscarriage, contact your health care provider right away. Depending on the circumstances, you might need immediate medical care.

(Video) MISCARRIAGE: Causes, Signs And Symptoms Diagnosis And Treatment | Dr Lora Shahine

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your health care provider.

What you can do

Before your appointment, you might want to:

  • Ask about pre-appointment restrictions. In most cases you'll be seen immediately. If that's not the case, ask whether you should restrict your activities while you wait for your appointment.
  • Find a loved one or friend who can join you for your appointment. Fear and anxiety might make it difficult to focus on what your health care provider says. Take someone along who can help remember all the information.
  • Write down questions to ask your health care provider. That way, you won't forget anything important that you want to ask, and you can make the most of your time with your health care provider.

Below are some basic questions to ask your health care provider about miscarriage:

  • What are the treatment options?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Can I continue to do my usual activities?
  • What signs or symptoms should prompt me to call you or go to the hospital?
  • Do you know what caused my miscarriage?
  • What are my chances for a successful future pregnancy?

In addition to the questions you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment — especially if you need clarification or you don't understand something.

What to expect from your health care provider

Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions, too. For example:

(Video) Early Pregnancy Miscarriage Symptoms | Missed Abortion | Miscarriage

  • When was your last menstrual period?
  • Were you using any contraceptive methods at the time you likely conceived?
  • When did you first notice your signs or symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Compared with your heaviest days of menstrual flow, is your bleeding more, less or about the same?
  • Have you had a miscarriage before?
  • Have you had any complications during a previous pregnancy?
  • Do you have any other health conditions?
  • Do you know your blood type?

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Oct. 16, 2021


Can a miscarriage diagnosis be wrong? ›

Although it's rare for a miscarriage to be misdiagnosed, it can happen. A doctor or other health care professional might make a mistake while examining a pregnant woman. If a woman experiences bleeding and cramping, she might believe she is having a miscarriage.

What happens after miscarriage diagnosis? ›

You'll experience symptoms similar to a heavy period, such as cramping and heavy vaginal bleeding. You may also experience vaginal bleeding for up to 3 weeks. In most units, you'll be sent home for the miscarriage to complete. This is safe, but ring your hospital if the bleeding becomes very heavy.

What is the diagnosis for miscarriage? ›

You usually need to have 2 blood tests 48 hours apart to see if your hormone levels go up or down. Sometimes a miscarriage cannot be confirmed immediately using ultrasound or blood testing. If this is the case, you may be advised to have the tests again in 1 or 2 weeks.

How often is a miscarriage misdiagnosis? ›

Out of 549 initial miscarriage diagnoses, 19 were wrong: New ultrasound scans two weeks later showed that these pregnancies were viable after all. Miscarriages are predicted by doctors when a woman's embryo or gestational sac seems too small, and when an ultrasound shows no fetal heartbeat.

Can you sue a hospital for misdiagnosis of miscarriage? ›

If you've had an incorrectly diagnosed miscarriage, you could be eligible to make a compensation claim.

What is a false miscarriage? ›

The term refers to a pregnancy in which there is some level of bleeding, but the cervix remains closed and the ultrasound shows that the baby's heart is still beating.

How long does it take to recover from a medical miscarriage? ›

The physical recovery can take 1 or 2 months. Your period should start within 4 to 6 weeks. Don't put anything in your body, including a tampon, and don't have sex for about 1-2 weeks. It can take longer for you to heal emotionally, especially if you knew you were pregnant when you miscarried.

Why do they tell you to wait after a miscarriage? ›

Typically, sex isn't recommended for two weeks after a miscarriage to prevent an infection. You can ovulate and become pregnant as soon as two weeks after a miscarriage. Once you feel emotionally and physically ready for pregnancy after miscarriage, ask your health care provider for guidance.

Can doctors tell after you've had a miscarriage? ›

You will have 2 tests, at least 48 hours apart. If your hCG level is falling, this may indicate that you are not pregnant. However, doctors may still not be able to know whether you have miscarried straight away.

Can a miscarriage be diagnosed without an ultrasound? ›

Quantitative hCG Blood Test

In early pregnancy, when the baby is too small to detect on an ultrasound, an hCG test may be the only tool available to confirm a miscarriage.

How is incomplete miscarriage diagnosis? ›

The ideal method of diagnosing an incomplete abortion is to obtain a quantitative human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) level and transvaginal or transabdominal ultrasound. [2] The ultrasound will usually reveal the presence of some products of conception in the uterus.

What is the treatment after a miscarriage? ›

A heating pad, ibuprofen, and/or a prescription pain medicine may be used to help ease cramps. Some women get nausea, diarrhea, or chills soon after using misoprostol. This should get better in a few hours. Taking ibuprofen before using misoprostol helps prevent some of the side effects.

Are doctors always right about miscarriage? ›

Miscarriage is no exception. Technically, medical or laboratory errors could theoretically lead to misdiagnosis of pregnancy loss at any point in pregnancy—but this is extremely uncommon. Most doctors use established guidelines before diagnosing miscarriage.

Is it possible to think you had a miscarriage and still be pregnant? ›

False pregnancy symptoms (pseudocyesis) can occur when an emotional trauma amplifies the physical symptoms of pregnancy following a miscarriage. Fetal movement, kicking, and contractions are just some of the sensations experienced.

Is it possible to have miscarriage and still be pregnant? ›

An incomplete miscarriage is when a miscarriage begins, but the pregnancy doesn't completely come away from the womb.

Can you get compensation for wrong diagnosis? ›

The short answer is yes. You can sue a healthcare provider for medical misdiagnosis and get compensation if successful. However, you would need to prove negligence and that this led directly to an injury or caused your condition to worsen unnecessarily.

Do doctors give false diagnosis? ›

Even highly experienced and competent doctors make diagnostic errors. Instead, the misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose must result in improper medical care, delayed treatment, or no treatment, which in turn must result in a worsening of the patient's medical condition in order for the malpractice to be actionable.

How do you prove misdiagnosis? ›

How To Prove Misdiagnosis
  1. A doctor-patient relationship was established between you and the medical professional you wish to sue.
  2. The doctor was negligent in providing treatment.
  3. The doctor's negligence caused an injury to the patient.
  4. The patient's injuries led to actual damages, such as medical bills.
Aug 11, 2020

How quickly does hCG drop after miscarriage? ›

After a miscarriage, hCG levels should drop. The average rate of decrease is about 50% every 48 hours. The vast majority will see their hCG levels drop by 50% within seven days.

Is no heartbeat at 7 weeks a successful pregnancy? ›

No Fetal Heartbeat After Seven Weeks Gestation

If you are past seven weeks pregnant, seeing no heartbeat may be a sign of miscarriage.1 By this point a transvaginal ultrasound should be able to reliable detect a heartbeat or lack thereof. But there are many exceptions to the "heartbeat by seven weeks" rule.

Does hCG levels dropping always mean miscarriage? ›

What Does a Low hCG Level Mean? However, falling hCG levels are not a definitive sign of miscarriage, even with bleeding. Sometimes, hCG levels drop, but then rise again and the pregnancy continues normally. Although this is not common, it can happen.

Do I need bed rest after miscarriage? ›

How long should women rest after a miscarriage? Thankfully, the answer is that they don't really need to very much. The majority of women should feel physically after two or three days.

Does your body need to heal after miscarriage? ›

Even though the pregnancy will not continue, caring for the body is still essential for healthy miscarriage recovery. Hydration, good nutrition, light exercise, and sleep will help the body heal. Consider trying a new physical activity that brings you joy or allows for an emotional release, such as boxing.

How painful is medical management of miscarriage? ›

Usually, you will start bleeding and have pains like menstrual cramps 2 to 4 hours after taking the misoprostol tablets. The discomfort varies in intensity; for some women it is quite mild while for others it is very painful, especially at the time when the bulk of the pregnancy tissue is passed.

Are you hospitalized after a miscarriage? ›

Most women who experience a spontaneous complete miscarriage will present to a hospital or health facility when they first have pain and bleeding before progressing to a complete miscarriage. After a medical assessment, if there are no further complications the woman will be discharged home.

Do you Hyperovulate after a miscarriage? ›

Hyperovulation after miscarriage

It's possible to ovulate and get pregnant as soon as two weeks after a miscarriage. While some sources state that fertility goes up after pregnancy loss, studies show mixed findings.

Why do I keep miscarrying at 6 weeks? ›

Recurrent early miscarriages (within the first trimester) are most commonly due to genetic or chromosomal problems of the embryo, with 50-80% of spontaneous losses having abnormal chromosomal number. Structural problems of the uterus can also play a role in early miscarriage.

What can accidentally cause a miscarriage? ›

Several factors may cause miscarriage:
  • Infection.
  • Exposure to TORCH diseases.
  • Hormonal imbalances.
  • Improper implantation of fertilized egg in your uterine lining.
  • How old you are.
  • Uterine abnormalities.
  • Incompetent cervix (your cervix begins to open too early in pregnancy).
Jul 19, 2022

How long does a miscarriage show up on an ultrasound? ›

In a study of asymptomatic women attending an early pregnancy ultrasound unit, the diagnosis of a miscarriage could not be made on initial ultrasound examination until 35 days from LMP and most miscarriages were diagnosed when the first assessment was between 63 and 85 days after the LMP.

What do doctors do when you have a silent miscarriage? ›

If you have a missed miscarriage you'll need to have 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).

What happens if you don't complete a miscarriage? ›

A miscarriage is labeled "incomplete" if bleeding has begun and the cervix is dilated, but tissue from the pregnancy still remains in the uterus. Most of the time, a miscarriage that is incomplete at the time of diagnosis will run its course without further intervention.

Can an incomplete miscarriage resolve on its own? ›

These problems are most likely to occur when the uterus does not completely empty. (This is called an incomplete miscarriage.) For many women, the body completes the miscarriage on its own. If you decide not to treat your miscarriage, see your doctor.

How long can you leave an incomplete miscarriage? ›

No treatment (expectant management)

If it is an incomplete miscarriage (where some but not all pregnancy tissue has passed) it will often happen within days, but for a missed miscarriage (where the fetus or embryo has stopped growing but no tissue has passed) it might take as long as three to four weeks.

What happens when you have a miscarriage and don t go to the hospital? ›

If you miscarry at home or somewhere else that's not a hospital, you are very likely to pass the remains of your pregnancy into the toilet. (This can happen in hospital too.) You may look at what has come away and see a pregnancy sac and/or the fetus – or something you think might be the fetus.

Is no heartbeat at 12 weeks a mistake? ›

When there is no audible fetal heartbeat from a handheld doppler by 12 weeks or no heartbeat detected at a 12-week scan, there is a possibility of miscarriage. The doctor will take a few extra precautionary steps to make absolutely sure. Pregnancy timing is based on a 28-day cycle with ovulation occurring on day 14.

Can hospitals confirm miscarriage? ›

Again, if you notice potential symptoms of a miscarriage, call your care provider. They will want to confirm the miscarriage and make sure that you aren't at risk for heavy blood loss or infection. This is usually done with a pelvic exam and an ultrasound.

How many miscarriages before you see a specialist? ›

Anyone who has experienced two or more miscarriages should see a reproductive specialist.

How do I know if I miscarried completely? ›

If you have a miscarriage in your first trimester, you may choose to wait 7 to 14 days after a miscarriage for the tissue to pass out naturally. This is called expectant management. If the pain and bleeding have lessened or stopped completely during this time, this usually means the miscarriage has finished.

Why wait 3 months after miscarriage? ›

After a miscarriage, how soon can you try to get pregnant again? In the United States, the most common recommendation was to wait three months for the uterus to heal and cycles to get back to normal. The World Health Organization has recommended six months, again to let the body heal.

Does 8 weeks miscarriage need D&C? ›

About 50% of women who miscarry do not undergo a D&C procedure. Women can safely miscarry on their own with few problems in pregnancies that end before 10 weeks. After 10 weeks, the miscarriage is more likely to be incomplete, requiring a D&C procedure.

Is having a miscarriage the same as losing a baby? ›

Both miscarriage and stillbirth describe pregnancy loss, but they differ according to when the loss occurs. In the United States, a miscarriage is usually defined as loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy, and a stillbirth is loss of a baby at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later.

What is it called when you have a miscarriage and then have a baby? ›

A rainbow baby is a name coined for a healthy baby born after losing a baby due to miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth, or neonatal death. The name “rainbow baby” comes from the idea of a rainbow appearing in the sky after a storm, or after a dark and turbulent time.

Can an ultrasound mistake a miscarriage? ›

Misdiagnosis of miscarriage can occur if a follow up ultrasound isn't performed. A further scan will check for continued development of the embryo and gestational sac. The usual waiting time between scans is one week, as a non-viable pregnancy will show no or very minimal growth.

Can doctors tell what caused a miscarriage? ›

Finding a cause

It's important to know that sometimes doctors will not be able to find a reason why you have miscarried. Try not to worry too much if this is the case. Most couples are likely to have a successful pregnancy in the future, particularly if the test results are normal.

Can a gynecologist tell if you had a miscarriage in the past? ›

To determine if you have had a miscarriage, your health care provider may do a pelvic exam to see if the cervix has opened or thinned.

What does a miscarriage look like on an ultrasound? ›

To diagnose a miscarriage on an ultrasound, doctors will look for a missing heartbeat, bleeding in the uterus including hematomas (crescent-shaped dark mass of clotted blood), an empty uterus, a uterus that still has retained products of conception or even the presence of a fetus or embryo that hasn't grown over time.

Do I need a scan to confirm miscarriage? ›

An ultrasound scan diagnoses most miscarriages. It may also diagnose miscarriages where some of the pregnancy remains in your womb. You might not be referred for an ultrasound if you: take a pregnancy test which gives a negative result.

What happens if you have a miscarriage and don t get cleaned out? ›

Often, some of the pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus after a miscarriage. If it is not removed by scraping the uterus with a curette (a spoon-shaped instrument), you may bleed for a long time or develop an infection.

What do doctors do if they suspect a miscarriage? ›

The most common procedure is a dilation and curettage (D&C), which involves widening your cervix and scraping the uterine lining, or endometrium. Sometimes the doctor uses suction along with scraping. This procedure can be uncomfortable, so you'll probably get general anesthesia to put you to sleep if you need it.


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