Understanding Spontaneous Abortion
Spontaneous abortion is a loss of pregnancy that happens before the fetus is viable. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most spontaneous abortions occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
Since it is possible for a woman to experience an early miscarriage before missing a menstrual period, some women suffer a spontaneous abortion even before realizing they are pregnant.
Spontaneous Abortion Rate
Fifteen to 20 percent of recognized pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, and the risk of miscarriage increases as a woman ages. Having a previous spontaneous abortion also places a woman at a slightly higher risk for miscarriage.
Approximately 80 percent of all miscarriages occur during the first trimester, and the risk of spontaneous abortion decreases as the pregnancy advances.
About 1 percent of women experience recurrent pregnancy loss, which is defined as two to three consecutive losses of pregnancies.
Causes of Spontaneous Abortion
Between 50-85 percent of spontaneous abortions are linked to an abnormal number of chromosomes (the structures that contain the genes that make each individual unique).
During the fertilization process, the egg and sperm come together to form 23 pairs of chromosomes. If an embryo has too many chromosomes, it may not survive.
Other factors that can lead to spontaneous abortion include:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Hormonal problems
- Immune disorders
- Chronic diseases such as uncontrolled diabetes
- Problems with a woman’s reproductive organs
If you suspect you are pregnant, schedule an appointment with your obstetrician as soon as possible, since early prenatal care is the best way to prevent pregnancy complications.
Warning Signs of Spontaneous Abortion
Vaginal bleeding, with or without cramping, is a possible indicator of spontaneous abortion. Low back pain or passing clots or tissue through the vagina are also signs of potential pregnancy loss.
Contact your OB/GYN if you experience any of these symptoms. Gather any clots or material you pass and bring them with you for examination.