In a recent episode of the Healthful Woman podcast, Dr. Sarp Aksel joined Dr. Fox to discuss first trimester miscarriage or early pregnancy loss. Early miscarriage is unfortunately quite common, so it is important to understand common symptoms and causes.
First Trimester Pregnancy Loss is Common
Women should understand that first trimester pregnancy loss is very common. Dr. Aksel explains that “about a quarter of women will experience a miscarriage at some point.” The risk of early pregnancy loss increases as patients get older, and miscarriage is most common very early in the pregnancy. For example, it is more likely that a pregnancy can be lost before a heartbeat is even detected on an ultrasound. Understanding that this is very common can help women feel less alone and alleviate some of the psychological distress that can come with early pregnancy loss.
Causes for First Trimester Miscarriage
Typically, genetic abnormality is the cause for early miscarriages. “A spontaneous abortion would be a pregnancy that was, and then it stopped growing. And oftentimes it’s because there’s some sort of, like [Dr. Fox] said, genetic abnormality,” Dr. Aksel explains. This can occur even if the couple’s have a relatively low risk of passing on genetic disorders, and means that the pregnancy was not viable regardless of the mother’s health. In addition to genetic abnormalities, some common causes for early pregnancy loss can include improper implantation into the uterine lining, uterine abnormalities, placenta complications, infection, or hormonal irregularity.
Symptoms of First Trimester Pregnancy Loss
Often, patients will experience cramping and bleeding followed by passing what looks like a large clot. This is known as a complete spontaneous abortion. In some cases, however, they will continue to bleed, and an ultrasound will show that the pregnancy is not viable, but the miscarriage is incomplete. These cases are known as incomplete abortions and will require further medical care to ensure the health of the mother. For most patients, symptoms of early pregnancy loss will usually last about 8-12 hours according to Dr. Aksel. However, he describes that in some cases, patients will not have symptoms but schedule appointments with their OB/GYN because they describe that they no longer “feel pregnant.”
Not all bleeding during pregnancy indicates miscarriage, so it is important to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN to check on these symptoms. Often, an ultrasound is used to determine whether bleeding is a sign of miscarriage or another complication, such as placenta previa, vasa previa, or cervix problems.
Schedule an Appointment
To learn more about early pregnancy care or ultrasound services, schedule an appointment with Carnegie Imaging for Women. Call our offices or contact us online to set up your first appointment.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!