Also called an “abortion” (“AB,” pronounced letter-by-letter) in medical-speak, but specifically a “spontaneous abortion” (“SAB”), meaning just happened on its own, which is completely different from an intentional “therapeutic abortion” (“TAB”). Miscarriages affect 1 in 5 pregnancies, and are never anybody’s fault. The body has its own way of ending deformed pregnancies that would not survive; sometimes a miscarriage occurs as simply one unusually heavy, irregular period, without the woman even knowing she’s pregnant.
Miscarriages often cause bleeding, but sometimes just lower abdominal pain. The diagnosis is first suspected by a positive pregnancy test. Then, before diagnosing “miscarriage,” the first step is to rule-out Ectopic Pregnancy.
Miscarriages usually resolve on their own, but whenever pain complicates a pregnancy, the patient should be referred to an ER, in order to rule out life-threatening conditions. A “threatened AB” means that a miscarriage may be in progress, but may stop, and the pregnancy may continue. An “inevitable AB” means there’s no stopping it. Repeated blood tests for the pattern of changes in hCG (the natural hormone of pregnancy) can help determine what’s happening.
“Septic AB” means a miscarriage complicated by infection, which can be life-threatening. The clue here is fever, and maybe pus from the vagina. It’s treated with antibiotics (usually given IV), and sometimes major surgery (hysterectomy). This used to be a common complication of illegal abortions (& in some states, may still be).