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Pregnancy, for many people, is a time of happiness and excitement. While most pregnancies end with happy and healthy babies, it is more common than might be expected that they end in miscarriage. According to the Mayo Clinic approximately 10-20 percent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage.
Some women miscarry so early, within the first five to six weeks, that they do not realize that they have miscarried, indicating these percentages may be higher. Usually when a pregnancy ends abruptly this early on in development it is because there is an abnormality in the fetus. Sometimes known as a chemical pregnancy, this is when the miscarriage occurs shortly after implantation and is thought to account for 50-75 percent of miscarriages. Women who experience this may not know they were pregnant because their period will come around the same time as it normally would.
While most miscarriages occur before the end of the 13th week if it occurs up to the 20th week of the pregnancy it is considered a miscarriage. During the first trimester there may be no way of knowing exactly why some women suffer miscarriages. More often than not it is a chromosomal abnormality. Sometimes the body knows that the baby will not survive.
Having a miscarriage can be an emotional experience. Knowing and understanding the common terms related to pregnancy and miscarriage can make a woman more comfortable at the doctor’s office. This will not making the ordeal less painful, but it will let them know what their doctor is referring to and thus more comfortable asking questions about the next steps best for their situation.
Another type of miscarriage is the blighted ovum. This occurs when the fertilized egg implants itself, but fetal development does not begin.
In an ectopic miscarriage the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tubes or somewhere else other than the uterus. A doctor will use an ultrasound to determine if this is the case as it can be dangerous to the mother if not detected and treated. There are various procedures the doctor can perform to clear this type of pregnancy.
Recurrent miscarriages occur during three or more consecutive pregnancies within the first trimester. While most times the miscarriage has not occurred due to any action on the part of the woman, there are some specific risk factors. Being over the age of 35 can increase the chances of having a miscarriage. Doctors vary on this number. Some say the risk increases 2-5 percent for each year over 35 years of age, while others estimate a 5-10 percent increased chance.
Women who experiences bodily trauma may experience a miscarriage. In addition, previous miscarriages increase the risk of subsequent miscarriages by 25 percent.
These are some risks that cannot be controlled, and a woman should not feel guilty if a miscarriage occurs for these reasons. There are risk factors that can be controlled, however. Drug use, radiation exposure, alcohol abuse and smoking are all risky behaviors that a woman can stop (or get help to stop) once she finds out she is pregnant.
Having a miscarriage does not mean a woman will not be able conceive again, nor does it mean she is unable to have a healthy pregnancy. Professionals stress that miscarriages are more common in the first trimester of a pregnancy than many people realize.
By Sara Kourtsounis