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What to Do If You Think You Are Having an Early Miscarriage


Updated July 14, 2014

Early miscarriage is unfortunately a common experience. Estimates vary on exactly how common they are, but nearly all suggest that at least 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in an early miscarriage. But even though the experience may be common, that doesn't mean that an early miscarriage isn't a big deal if you're having one.

Symptoms of Early Miscarriage

If you have recently had a positive pregnancy test, the symptoms of early miscarriage would be vaginal bleeding, possibly some cramping, and eventual loss of pregnancy symptoms. These symptoms can occur for reasons other than miscarriage, however. So you should not automatically assume a miscarriage.

When to See a Doctor

Even though it can be an emotionally awful experience, an early miscarriage isn't always a medical emergency. You should always go to the emergency room if you are having very heavy bleeding, such as soaking through a menstrual pad in under an hour, or if you have symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. But in other cases you may want to just call your regular doctor.

For a very early miscarriage, you may not need a doctor at all. If the bleeding begins within a day or two of getting a positive pregnancy test and looks like a slightly heavy menstrual period, you may wish to just repeat the pregnancy test in a few days -- a negative pregnancy test would mean you are no longer pregnant. You would most likely not require any kind of treatment after this kind of a miscarriage (often termed a chemical pregnancy), although you should always see a doctor whenever in doubt over whether you need one. If you have any questions about the experience, your doctor should be able to answer them and offer you advice.

If you think you are having a miscarriage and more than a week has passed since your missed menstrual period, the best course of action is to call your family practitioner or OB/GYN (assuming you have no emergency symptoms). Your doctor will be able to order hCG blood tests and/or an early ultrasound in order to get an idea of what's going on and potentially offer you a D & C or misoprostol if appropriate.

Note that doctors are not able to stop an early miscarriage that is in progress; they can only make sure that your own health is not in danger as a result of the miscarriage and offer you advice about how to go forward.

Aftermath of an Early Miscarriage

An early miscarriage can shake you to your core, especially if it is your first one. Feeling that way is totally normal -- no one ever expects to have a miscarriage when they get a positive pregnancy test, and then suddenly losing the pregnancy can be traumatic, especially if you had been trying to get pregnant. Be sure to give yourself permission and room to grieve the miscarriage as much as you need to.

Talk to your doctor about when it is okay to try again after the miscarriage. If you are wanting to try again right away, be clear about that with your doctor. Some doctors give an answer to the question that isn't customized to the individual situation. In general, there's no proof that being pregnant right away after an early miscarriage carries any increased risk -- but individual factors may affect when it is safe to pursue a new pregnancy, so be sure to have the conversation with your doctor before assuming anything.


March of Dimes, "Miscarriage." Quick Reference and Fact Sheets. Jun 2005. Accessed 20 Aug 2008.

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  3. Miscarriage / Pregnancy Loss
  4. Symptoms & Diagnosis
  5. Diagnosing Pregnancy Loss
  6. Dealing With an Early Miscarriage or Chemical Pregnancy

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