What is the difference between a miscarriage and an abortion?
Pregnancy loss, often called a miscarriage, happens when a pregnancy stops growing. This is very common. About 1 in 4 pregnancies end in pregnancy loss, mostly in the first few months of being pregnant.
Miscarriage is almost never caused by something the pregnant person did. Sex, past abortions, foods, exercise, birth control do not cause pregnancy loss. Miscarriage is usually caused by chromosomal abnormalities that happen by chance in early embryonic development. When a pregnancy starts, cells divide fast to make an embryo, and sometimes mistakes occur. If the body notices that an error has occurred, the pregnancy stops growing.
Most types of pregnancy loss don't mean that you'll have any trouble getting pregnant in the future. For most people, miscarriage in the first trimester is a one-time event and they will then go on to have a healthy pregnancy the next time. In fact, you can become pregnant very soon after a pregnancy loss.
During a miscarriage, the you may have:
- Bleeding or spotting from the vagina, sometimes with clots
- Cramps, belly or back pain
These symptoms can last for days to weeks, and it's good to let a medical provider know. If you have a fever or very heavy bleeding, you should go to the emergency room.
If you are diagnosed with a miscarriage or believe you might be having a miscarriage, you have several options which include: allowing your body to pass the pregnancy tissue on its own; using medications (i.e. the same pills used in a medication abortion) to induce cramping and bleeding in order to speed up the process; or you can have a procedure in a health clinic in which a medical provider removes the pregnancy tissue with gentle suction.
The emotional experience during a miscarriage is different for everyone, and it can be hard. If you need emotional support around pregnancy loss, check out throughtheheart.org. Check out our Resources page for more information on where to get support.