A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before week 20. About 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, though the actual percentage is likely higher because some pregnancies are lost very early, before a woman realizes she is pregnant.
How long a miscarriage lasts can vary, depending on several factors. Read on to learn more about miscarriages.
How Long Does a Miscarriage Last?
If you experience a miscarriage before realizing you’re pregnant, you may think the bleeding and cramping are due to your menstrual cycle. So, some women have miscarriages and never realize it.
The length of a miscarriage differs for every woman, and it depends on different factors, including:
- how far along you are in the pregnancy
- whether you were carrying multiples
- how long it takes your body to expel the fetal tissue and placenta
A woman early in her pregnancy may have a miscarriage and only experience bleeding and cramping for a few hours. But another woman may have miscarriage bleeding for up to a week.
The bleeding can be heavy with clots, but it slowly tapers off over days before stopping, usually within two weeks.
What to Do If You Have a Miscarriage
If you think you’re having a miscarriage, seek medical help immediately. Any vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain should be evaluated. There are different tests your doctor can run to determine a miscarriage.
Your doctor will check your cervix during a pelvic examination. Your doctor might perform an ultrasound to check the fetal heartbeat. A blood test can look for the pregnancy hormone.
If you’ve passed pregnancy tissue, bring a sample of the tissue to your appointment so your doctor can confirm the miscarriage.
Types of Miscarriage
There are different types of miscarriages. These include:
During a threatened miscarriage your cervix isn’t dilated, but you do experience bleeding. There is still a viable pregnancy present. There’s a risk of miscarriage, but with observation and medical intervention, you may be able to continue the pregnancy.
An inevitable miscarriage is when your cervix is dilated and your uterus is contracting. You may already be passing some of the pregnancy tissue vaginally. This is a miscarriage already in progress.
Your body releases some fetal tissue, but some of the tissue remains in your uterus.
During a missed miscarriage, the embryo has died, but the placenta and embryonic tissue remain in your uterus. You may not have any symptoms, and the diagnosis is made incidentally on an ultrasound exam.
During a complete miscarriage your body passes all the pregnancy tissue.
If you ignore a possible miscarriage, you could develop septic miscarriage, which is a rare but serious uterine infection. Symptoms of this complication include a fever, chills, abdominal tenderness, and foul-smelling vaginal discharge.