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Threatened Miscarriage

Why Your Doctor Might Say Your Symptoms Mean a Threatened Miscarriage


Updated June 11, 2014

Worry Often Accompanies Miscarriage Symptoms

When you have a threatened miscarriage, waiting for test results can be very difficult emotionally when you are having miscarriage symptoms.

Photo: Marili Forastieri / Getty Images

Being told you have a threatened miscarriage is like having your entire future placed in limbo. A woman might be having miscarriage symptoms and head to her doctor, but then the doctor isn't able to immediately answer whether or not her symptoms are the signs of a miscarriage. For example, a woman might have light vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy but have a closed cervix (a dilated cervix would be a sign that the miscarriage was in progress).

What Happens in a Threatened Miscarriage

In cases of threatened miscarriage, a doctor might order diagnostic tests to judge the viability of the pregnancy, such as ultrasound and hCG blood tests. But getting useful information from the results takes time. In early pregnancy, a woman would need at least two hCG blood tests spaced two days apart to judge whether the levels are rising or falling. Similarly, ultrasound often needs to be repeated a few days or a week later in order to conclusively diagnose an early miscarriage.

A similar situation arises for women who do not have miscarriage symptoms but who have an early ultrasound and see no heartbeat. In these cases, there is a chance that the pregnancy could be viable but the dating inaccurate -- or it could be a missed miscarriage. The doctor might order a followup ultrasound in a week.

In either case, the wait for answers can be painful. Women are left not knowing whether they need to be planning for a baby or grieving the loss of one. The limbo can last for days. It can be impossible to think of anything or go about daily life until there they have an answer one way or the other.

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