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Miscarriages: The Causes and Risks

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Sometimes knowing why something happens gives us the power to go on. A miscarriage is a terrible thing, especially if you have been planning and hoping for a pregnancy for a while.

What causes it? Was it something preventable? Let’s explore those questions.

A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of pregnancy before the 20th week. Unfortunately, miscarriages are a common experience. Some symptoms may include:

Spotting or bleeding – but remember, bleeding early in pregnancy can be a common thing for some

Cramping in your lower abdomen or back area
Fluid or tissue passing vaginally

When a woman develops an infection that leads to a miscarriage, symptoms may include:

Body aches
Vaginal discharge that's thick and foul-smelling

If you start experiencing any of the above, it’s time to see the doctor. It is even advisable to take some of the tissue that was passed to the doctor’s office. This helps the doctor to confirm whether your symptoms are related to a tubal pregnancy or not.

Just what causes it?

Most miscarriages happen because the baby is not developing as it should. However, there are instances where the mother has a medical condition that may lead to a miscarriage, such as uncontrolled diabetes, thyroid disease, infections, hormonal problems and uterus or cervix problems. Miscarriages are not caused by exercise, lifting or straining, sex or working.

The following are risk factors that increase the chances of a miscarriage:

Being 35 years of age or older
Having experienced previous miscarriages – two or more
To have a previous on-going health condition
To have uterine or cervical problems
To be a smoker, heavy drinker and/or illicit drug user
To have had invasive prenatal testing

After a miscarriage, you will physically heal much quicker than emotionally. Give yourself time to grieve and seek help if needed. Most times, there is nothing a woman can do to prevent a miscarriage. The next time you prepare for a pregnancy, remember to continue such things as scheduling and keeping prenatal care and avoiding habits like smoking and drinking. If you have a chronic condition, work hard to stabilize it. And most of all, try to relax and enjoy every moment of your new pregnancy.


Pregnancy and Miscarriage. WebMD. Web. 29 October 2011.

Miscarriage. The American Pregnancy Association. Web. 29 October 2011.

Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer and avid blogger. Please check out her blog at:

Reviewed November 3, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.