Feb 24, 2011 2 Comments
If you’ve experienced an early pregnancy loss, the sadness you’ll feel is the same no matter the cause or the official medical name. Still, it’s helpful to know about the different types of miscarriage so you’re familiar with the terms your practitioner might be using.
1. Chemical pregnancy. A chemical pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized but fails to develop successfully or implant fully in the uterus. A woman may miss her period and suspect she is pregnant; she may even have a positive pregnancy test because her body has produced some low—but detectable—levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG, but in a chemical pregnancy, there will be no gestational sac or placenta on ultrasound examination.
2. Blighted ovum. A blighted ovum (or anembryonic pregnancy) refers to a fertilized egg that attaches to the wall of the uterus, begins to develop a placenta (which produces hCG), but then fails to develop into an embryo). What is left behind is an empty gestational sac (which can be visualized on an ultrasound).
3. Missed miscarriage. A missed miscarriage, which is very rare, is when the embryo or fetus dies but continues to stay in the uterus. Often, the only signs of a missed miscarriage are the loss of all pregnancy symptoms, and less commonly, a brownish discharge. Confirmation of the miscarriage occurs when an ultrasound shows no fetal heartbeat.
4. Incomplete miscarriage. An incomplete miscarriage is when some of the tissue from the placenta stays inside the uterus and some is passed through the vagina via bleeding. With an incomplete miscarriage, a woman continues to cramp and bleed (sometimes heavily), her cervix remains dilated, pregnancy tests still come back positive (or blood hCG levels are still detectable and don’t fall as expected), and parts of the pregnancy are still visible on an ultrasound.
5. Threatened miscarriage. When there is some vaginal bleeding but the cervix remains closed and the fetal heartbeat (as seen on ultrasound) is still detectable, it is considered a threatened miscarriage. Roughly half of those women with a threatened miscarriage go on to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy.