What is Miscarriage?

In medical words, a miscarriage is called spontaneous abortion. It is the loss of an unborn baby less than halfway (20 weeks) through a full-term pregnancy.

Symptoms: Some miscarriages are completely silent. But one or more of the following events suggests (yet does NOT prove) that a miscarriage is happening, or has already happened: 

  • Bleeding greater than your typical menstrual period

  • Cramping pain in your pelvis, lower back, or lower abdomen

  • A gush of warm liquid from your vagina

  • The passage of true tissue (not just blood clots) or of a small recognizable baby from your vagina

  • Inability to demonstrate beating of the baby’s heart on a sonogram after six or more weeks of life

Confirmation: Miscarriage may be diagnosed in one or more of these ways:

  • Pelvic exam showing your cervix has dilated/opened up

  • Examination of any solid tissue (rather than blood or clots) that have passed from your vagina

  • Blood lab tests showing falling pregnancy hormone levels

Treatment: If you are experiencing these symptoms, seek immediate medical care with your obstetrician, an emergency room, or an urgent care center.

It is rare for a doctor to be able to discover the exact cause of a miscarriage.



An ectopic pregnancy is one that is growing outside of the uterus.

Although ectopic pregnancies are rare, they are a medical emergency. Most often, the location of an ectopic pregnancy is in the fallopian tube, but it can be anywhere outside the uterus.


  • Severe pain centered on one side of the abdomen or pelvis
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or blackouts
  • Abnormally low blood pressure
  • As in the case of miscarriage, the passage of tissue (not just blood clots) from your vagina
    • Bleeding from the vagina may or may not be present

Medical Tests: The doctor may perform several tests to help confirm an ectopic pregnancy, since many of the symptoms can be confusing. These may include a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and/or lab work.

Causes: In most cases, the cause of tubal pregnancy is not known and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it.

Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy is present when a woman:

  • Has had a previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Has had an infection of the fallopian tubes or certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia
  • Has had a pelvic infection from an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Gets pregnant while an IUD is inside her uterus

Tubal pregnancy is a medical emergency. Failure to get emergent help may allow rapid bleeding into your abdomen from a ruptured internal organ. It can even cause death.

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately.

Treatment: An unborn baby cannot survive outside the womb, nor can it be relocated and put inside the uterus. To protect the woman’s life, the baby, afterbirth and perhaps the tube are removed. This can be done through medication or through surgery, depending on several factors, and the doctor will decide that after doing a thorough exam.

The information presented on this website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional counseling, medical, or prenatal care.

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