The 13 Different Types of Miscarriages You Can Have
A miscarriage is a heartbreaking thing to deal with, regardless of when it occurs. And if you've had a miscarriage, you probably had lots of questions about how it happened and why. I've been there—over the past ten years, I've had two miscarriages: a chemical pregnancy and a vanishing twin. Both of those are super common types of miscarriage, but before I experienced them, I had never even heard of them before.
But being informed helped me to understand that it wasn't anything I did wrong, which is so important when you're healing from a miscarriage. That's why it's a good idea to learn about the different types of miscarriage so you'll have a better understanding of what you—or someone you're close to—might be dealing with if a pregnancy ends in miscarriage.
Wondering about the different types of miscarriage that can occur? I've listed the most common ones here.
The classification of a chemical miscarriage vs. a clinical one is more than just another way of indicating whether it occurred early on or not. In a chemical miscarriage, the egg is fertilized, which in turn cues the body to produce the pregnancy hormone HCG. But the fertilized egg never implants, so there isn't any clinical evidence of a miscarriage, like a sac or a fetus. In most cases, these fleeting pregnancies are over before you even miss a period.
- RELATED: What is Chemical Pregnancy?
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a clinical miscarriage is one in which there are clinical signs of pregnancy, such as a missed period or a visible fetal sac during an ultrasound, in addition to a positive pregnancy test. In other words, a clinical miscarriage is basically any miscarriage that's not considered chemical.
An early miscarriage is one that occurs before week 13 of pregnancy, like both of mine. If your miscarriage occurs relatively early on, your recovery may be relatively speedy, and, pending a conversation with your doctor, you might be able to start trying again pretty quickly.
- RELATED: Signs of Miscarriage
A late miscarriage occurs between weeks 14 and 24; from there, a pregnancy loss is actually considered a stillbirth. Late miscarriages often come with much heavier bleeding, longer recovery times (both physical and emotional) and a few months of pelvic rest before getting back to trying to conceive.
If your miscarriage occurs during your first pregnancy, it's referred to as a primary miscarriage. Rest assured that having one miscarriage does not mean you're destined to have another. That's simply a miscarriage myth.
If you've already given birth to a child before your miscarriage occurs, it's considered a secondary miscarriage. Note that this is not the same thing as a repeat miscarriage described below.
Your first miscarriage, regardless of whether you've had kids before or not, may be referred to as a sporadic miscarriage.
If you've experienced more than one miscarriage (if so, we are so sorry you're dealing with this difficult situation), they will be referred to as repeat miscarriages.
- RELATED: Top 7 Causes of Miscarriage
The big difference between complete and incomplete miscarriage has to do with whether your body initiates and finishes the miscarriage or not. In a complete miscarriage, bleeding occurs and the miscarriage takes place naturally. You may pass large clots as all fetal tissue is expelled from the uterus during a complete miscarriage.
An incomplete miscarriage indicates the body doesn't work to expel the fetus on its own. In these cases, a minor surgical procedure called a D&C may become necessary in order to ensure everything is removed before trying again.
Vanishing Twin Miscarriage
Dr Norbet Gleicher, fertility expert, OB-GYN, and founder of The Center for Human Reproduction, refers to vanishing twin syndrome as "a phenomenon where one of the developing embryos does not survive, and the residual tissue becomes absorbed by the remaining healthy embryo(s)." My first question when I got the news about the loss of one of my twins was whether the surviving twin was in danger.
Often though, this isn't the case, since "the most common cause is chromosomal abnormality, in which the embryo that 'disappears,' or fails to continue developing already had genetic complications that would preclude its healthy growth," says Gleicher.
You may have heard of a missed miscarriage before. In this heartbreaking scenario, there are no indications that anything has gone wrong, but often a routine doctor's appointment reveals baby's heart is no longer beating.
- RELATED: What is a Missed Miscarriage
Blighted Ovum Miscarriage
Inversely, blighted ovum is the medical term used to describe a fetus that never developed a heart beat.