Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is a miscarriage?
- What causes a miscarriage, and what are the tests for the different causes?
- What does NOT cause miscarriage?
- Are there lifestyle factors associated with miscarriage?
- What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?
- What will the doctor look for during an examination with suspected miscarriage?
- How is threatened abortion evaluated?
- What are common terms a woman might hear during evaluation for miscarriage?
- What treatment can a woman expect when she has had a miscarriage?
- When should a woman receive evaluation for underlying causes of pregnancy loss?
- Can something be done to prevent future miscarriages?
- Miscarriage At A Glance
What does NOT cause miscarriage?
It must be emphasized that exercise, working, and sexual intercourse do not increase the risk of pregnancy loss in routine (uncomplicated) pregnancies. However, in the unusual circumstance where a woman is felt by her physician to be at higher risk of spontaneous abortion, she may be advised to stop working and refrain from having sexual intercourse. Women with past history of premature delivery and other specific obstetrical conditions might fall under this category.
Are there lifestyle factors associated with miscarriage?
Smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy loss, and some studies have even shown that the risk of miscarriage increases with paternal smoking. Other factors, such as alcohol use, fever, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs around the time of embryo implantation, and caffeine use have all been suggested to increase the risk of miscarriage, although more studies are needed to fully clarify any potential risks associated with these factors. Of course, alcohol is a known teratogen (a chemical that can damage the developing fetus), so pregnant women are advised to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages.
What are the symptoms of a miscarriage?
Cramping and vaginal bleeding are the most common symptoms noticed with spontaneous abortion. The cramping and bleeding may be very mild, moderate, or severe. There is no particular pattern as to how long the symptoms will last.
Vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy is often referred to as a "threatened abortion." The term threatened abortion is used since miscarriage does not always follow vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy, even after repeated episodes or large amounts of bleeding. Studies have shown that 90% to 96% of pregnancies with demonstrated fetal cardiac activity that result in vaginal bleeding at 7 to 11 weeks of gestation will result in an ongoing pregnancy.
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