Missed Miscarriage: Symptoms, Treatment, and Coping


A failed miscarriage (also called a silent miscarriage) occurs when the fetus has died but remains in the uterus. When a person misses a pregnancy, they usually have no signs or symptoms to tell them that something is wrong.

A miscarriage usually causes bleeding, pain, or other symptoms. When a miscarriage occurs, there are no symptoms and the diagnosis is often made only during a routine ultrasound.

An ultrasound during pregnancy may show that the fetus is not growing properly (too small for gestational age), that the heart is not beating, or both. These results may come as a surprise to parents, as there was no indication that there was a problem with the pregnancy.

Sometimes, if the fetal heart rate is undetectable and gestational growth is unscheduled, another scan may be ordered a week or 10 days later.

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What is a missed miscarriage?

A missed miscarriage occurs when the fetus has died or stopped developing in the womb, but there has not yet been a physical miscarriage. Most of the time, there are no signs and the pregnant woman does not suspect that something is wrong.


Physical miscarriages can occur hours, days, or weeks after the death of the fetus. The onset varies from person to person. When a miscarriage occurs, the hormonal level in the pregnant woman takes longer to drop and miscarriage occurs.

Decreased hormone levels can delay miscarriage, which can last for several days or even weeks.

The reason for miscarriage, in which the level of hormones in a person does not drop immediately, is not entirely clear.

Signs and symptoms

A miscarriage in a pregnant woman usually begins with pain similar to menstrual cramps and vaginal bleeding . With miscarriage, these signs do not occur .

Even though a silent miscarriage has occurred, the pregnancy hormones are still high. Therefore, a pregnant woman may continue to experience pregnancy symptoms such as breast tenderness, nausea, and fatigue, and the pregnancy test may continue to show a positive result.

If the miscarriage occurs before the second trimester, it is too early to feel fetal movement. This means that lack of movement will not alert the person that they are having a miscarriage.



When a missed miscarriage occurs, it is usually detected on a routine ultrasound during a prenatal visit. A missed miscarriage can also be seen around the 20th week of pregnancy when an abnormality scan (a mid-pregnancy scan performed between 18-21 weeks to examine the fetus for physical abnormalities) is performed.

A miscarriage scan usually shows a fetus or embryo (depending on the stage of development) within the amniotic sac, but the fetus appears smaller than it should be and there is no heartbeat.

The scan could also show an empty amniotic sac or no amniotic sac at all. In this case, the fetus stopped developing at a very early stage and was reabsorbed by the body. This is sometimes called embryonic death.

Watch out

Treatment of miscarriage depends on several factors, such as the stage of development of the fetus and the needs and preferences of the pregnant woman.

The person will want to discuss the following options with their doctor or nurse midwife:

  • Allow miscarriage on its own without medical intervention
  • Taking medications that cause a miscarriage.
  • Perform a surgical procedure (such as D&C) to remove the fetus.

Front facing

When a miscarriage is diagnosed, the initial emotional reaction is usually shock, especially in those who have had no physical signs or symptoms of an abnormal pregnancy.

Sometimes a person develops mild symptoms or simply "suspects" that something is wrong. However, even if there are signs that something was wrong, this does not mean that the person will be less devastated by the diagnosis.

Repeated ultrasound

When an early miscarriage occurs and the ultrasound shows that the fetus is too small for the gestation period, the pregnant woman may be asked to wait until the next ultrasound to make sure there are no fetal heartbeats.

The waiting period can be excruciating for a pregnant woman and her loved ones .


A missed miscarriage occurs when stillbirth occurs, but the fetus has not yet had a physical miscarriage. If a person has a miscarriage, they may not have any symptoms. The condition can only be detected when an ultrasound is performed during your prenatal visit.

When a missed miscarriage is diagnosed, a person may be asked if they would like to wait to see if the physical miscarriage occurs naturally. If not, there are medications and medical procedures that can be used to complete the miscarriage.

Get the word of drug information

A missed miscarriage often occurs without warning signs that something is wrong. When you discover that you have a silent miscarriage, you may feel so overwhelmed that you are unwilling to participate in treatment decisions . It's okay if you have to spend a few days thinking about what happened before deciding what to do next.

When you are ready, your doctor will discuss your options with you. Ask your loved ones for support, and if you feel you need to speak with a mental health professional, tell your doctor that you need a referral or referral.

You can also find online or personal support groups for miscarriage survivors to help you get through the pain of losing your pregnancy.

Frequently asked questions

What Causes Miscarriage?

The exact cause of miscarriage is unknown. In general, genetic problems can play a role in miscarriage, but it is not clear why some people experience silent miscarriages.

How common are miscarriages?

It is not known how common silent miscarriages are, but one study found that miscarriage occurs in about 3% of pregnancies.

How long does a miscarriage take after miscarriage?

A physical miscarriage can take days or even weeks if a person has had a miscarriage.

How early can you have a miscarriage?

Miscarriages occur most often in the first trimester of pregnancy (by definition, a miscarriage occurs before 20 weeks). About 80% of miscarriages occur in the first trimester.

What are the signs of a miscarriage?

Usually there are no signs of miscarriage. In some cases, a person may have cramping or a pinkish-brown or red vaginal discharge.

Pregnancy symptoms, such as breast tenderness, nausea, or fatigue, often persist after a silent miscarriage. However, some people may notice that these symptoms start to go away when a miscarriage occurs.

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