Symptoms and causes of early miscarriage

A miscarriage means a spontaneous loss of pregnancy, due to a natural cause, before week 20. According to statistics, about 10-20 per cent of known pregnancies are lost. However, the actual percentage may be slightly higher because many miscarriages occur before the woman has even found out about the pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?

Most miscarriages occur before week 12. Among specific symptoms, the following are most frequent:

  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Abdominal cramps or lower back pain
  • Discharge of issue from the vagina

What are the causes?

A miscarriage can have many causes, but one of the most common is the abnormal development of the embryo due to genetic causes. About half of miscarriages are, in one way or another, linked to extra chromosomes or missing chromosomes.

In addition to genetic problems, the mother’s health issues can also cause a miscarriage. The risk increases when the mother suffers from diabetes, thyroid issues, infections or hormonal problems.

Besides genetic causes and health problems of the pregnant women, there are a number of risk factors that need to be considered when talking about miscarriage. Out of these, the most important are the following:

  • The mother’s age. Women who get pregnant after the age of 35 have a higher risk of miscarriage, at around 20 per cent. At 40, this percentage reaches 40 per cent, and after the age of 45, the risk of miscarriage is 80 per cent.
  • A history of miscarriages Women who have already experienced a miscarriage are more likely to suffer another one.
  • Smoking, alcohol or drug use. Women who suffer from addiction have an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • A body weight too small or too big. Women that are too thin or too overweight risk having a miscarriage.

What does NOT cause a miscarriage:

Ignore those petty urban myths – physical exercise, sex and work won’t lead to a miscarriage. Gentle exercise is fine during pregnancy and you can have sex at any time during the pregnancy without any danger, as long as your doctor hasn’t advised you otherwise.

If you are in an unusual situation and your work exposes you to radiation or dangerous substances, then you should obviously discuss these aspects with your doctor first. But most pregnant women should be fine to carry on as usual at work.