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Miscarriage is Common: You’re Not Alone

Understanding how common miscarriage is, and realizing that your experiences do not isolate you.

October 5, 2020
Miriam Reid

One of the worst things to face when it comes to any infertility issue is the feeling that you are all alone in your experiences. This can be the case with anything that goes wrong with the body, whether that be physical, mental, or emotional health—we work ourselves into a cycle of internal dialogue that has us convinced that we are bearing the burdens of misfortune entirely on our own, and that our troubles are an inherently lonely ordeal. It is absolutely vital to remember that no matter how difficult the time, how terrible the struggle, you are not alone. Specifically for today’s article, if you have suffered a miscarriage, you are certainly not alone.

What is Miscarriage?

Definition and Terms

Person holding their hands over their stomache, which is glowing faintly red
Miscarriage can mean a number of different things, and can be caused by various issues. Image courtesy of First Cry Parenting.

A miscarriage is when an embryo or fetus dies within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. There are several different types of miscarriage, and each poses different physical risks and emotional hardship. Different terms regarding miscarriage include the following:

Threatened Miscarriage

With a threatened miscarriage, a person will experience vaginal bleeding and sometimes mild cramps, but the cervix remains closed. These have a roughly 50% chance of resolving and going on to be a normal pregnancy.

Inevitable Miscarriage

An inevitable miscarraige involves increased bleeding and an open cervix, and leaves no chance to save the pregnancy.

Incomplete Miscarriage

An incomplete miscarraige involves the expulsion of only some of the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. This may require follow-up treatment.

Complete Miscarriage

All of the pregnancy tissue leaves the uterus, and the person does not usually need follow-up treatment.

Missed Miscarriage

Although there is no cramping or bleeding, ultrasound reveals an embryo with no heartbeat, or an absent embryo. Follow-up treatment may be necessary.

The causes for miscarriage are not always known, but it is usually an issue with chromosomes in the genes or with the uterus or cervix, or the result of some sort of infection. Chromosomal problems include:

Uterine and cervical problems include:


Facts and Figures

Infographic describing how "1 in 4 women have experienced miscarraige"s
Anywhere between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 pregnant people will experience a miscarriage. Image courtesy of Tommy’s.

How common is miscarriage? It actually depends on when in the process the miscarriage occurs. From implantation to fertilization to confirmation to a fetal heartbeat to all of the other factors leading up to the 20th week of pregnancy, there are numerous stages along the way where medical issues can become apparent.

According to “Incidence of Early Loss of Pregnancy” by Allen J. Wilcox, M.D., Ph.D. and 7 others, 22% of all conceptions never even complete implantation. That means that in 22 out of every 100 cases, the embryo may never even make contact with the uterine wall, and the pregnancy may never even technically commence. Miscarriage as a whole, however, is much more common. Very Well Family estimates that, counting both fertilized eggs that never implant and pregnancies that end in miscarriage, around 70% to 75% of all conceptions end in pregnancy loss.

The likelihood of miscarriage for the stages along the way varies. Referring back to “Incidence of Early Loss of Pregnancy,” about 31% of pregnancies that are confirmed after implantation end in miscarriage. That’s right: nearly a third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Cohen, Buxbaum, and Mankuta’s article “Spontaneous First Trimester Miscarriage Rates Per Woman Among Parous Women With 1 Or More Pregnancies Of 24 Weeks Or More” suggests that anywhere between 10% and 20% of medically confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, with 80% of those miscarriages occurring in the first trimester.

Monash University, via the article “Miscarriage Risk for Asymptomatic Women After a Normal First-Trimester Prenatal Visit,” reveals that the overall risk of miscarraige after the fetus’s heartbeat has been detected are low, but still present. They put the risk at 4% when the heartbeat is detected, 1.5% after 8 weeks, and 0.9% after 9 weeks. This research also found that if you have already suffered a miscarriage, your odds of miscarrying again are about 20%. But the interesting thing to note is that this is not that much higher a chance than for someone with no history of miscarriage.

You Are Not Alone

Find Support Today

Two hands exchangeing a cutout of a black heart.
Never forget that support and love is out there. Image courtesy of Kelly Sikkema.

Millions of people around the world, regardless of medical history, will deal with or have already dealt with miscarriage at some point in their lives. If you are one of those millions, know that your experiences are by no means awful things that are only happening to you. There is a whole world out there full of communities for you to reach out to. Find a support group full of people going through problems just like yours. It always helps to know that there are people in your corner.


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