facebook linkedin links to instagram links to pinterest links to twitter links to vimeo links to youtube

Types of miscarriage

There are several types of miscarriage. Your doctor or specialist may discuss the kind of miscarriage you have experienced, listed here in alphabetical order.

Blighted Ovum/Anembryonic Pregnancy

A blighted ovum is when a fertilised egg implants in the womb (uterus), but an embryo does not develop. Pregnancy symptoms may be present early on but diminish over time.

Complete Miscarriage

A complete miscarriage means that your body has passed all the pregnancy tissue. Symptoms usually involve heavy vaginal bleeding, intense abdominal pain, and cramping, which should decrease after the pregnancy tissues have passed. If you think you may have had a complete miscarriage, see your doctor or specialist. They’ll check that all the pregnancy tissue has passed.

Ectopic Pregnancy and Pregnancy of Unknown Locations

An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilised egg implants outside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes (95%).  As the fertilised egg begins to grow in the fallopian tube it can burst or severely damage the tube, resulting in internal bleeding which must be treated immediately.  Ectopic pregnancies are considered a medical emergency as they can be life threatening.  Unfortunately, an ectopic pregnancy cannot be moved into the womb and therefore can’t be saved.

Incomplete Miscarriage

An incomplete miscarriage occurs when some but not all of the pregnancy tissue has passed. Vaginal bleeding and intense cramping or abdominal pain occur. And may continue as your body tries to empty the remaining pregnancy tissues. You may require medical management or surgical treatment to remove any remaining tissue. The surgical treatment is commonly known as a suction dilation and curettage (D&C). If you’re still experiencing bleeding after 2 weeks or have an unpleasant vaginal discharge smell (which could be a sign of infection), you must see your doctor or specialist. They’ll check whether all the pregnancy tissue has passed.

Inevitable Miscarriage

An inevitable miscarriage is a miscarriage that has started, and the pregnancy tissue is still in the uterus. Heavy bleeding, intense abdominal cramps, and pain will follow as the cervix dilates and passes some or all of the pregnancy tissue (incomplete or complete miscarriage). Miscarriage is inevitable.

Missed or Silent Miscarriage

A missed miscarriage or a silent miscarriage is when the embryo or foetus has died but remains in the womb (uterus). Often there are no symptoms of a missed miscarriage. Although you may experience some vaginal discharge that is brown coloured and your usual pregnancy symptoms may become less noticeable. You may find out that you have miscarried during a routine check-up.

Molar Pregnancy

Molar pregnancies can be complete or incomplete and result from chromosomal abnormalities. With a complete molar pregnancy, no foetus develops. A partial or incomplete molar pregnancy results in both an abnormal foetus and placenta, but the foetus is non–viable, and a full-term pregnancy is not possible. Molar pregnancies usually result in miscarriage in the first three months.

Molar pregnancy symptoms may include larger than expected abdominal growth. Some women may experience no symptoms and find out they have a molar pregnancy during a routine check-up.

Recurrent Miscarriage

Currently, in Australia, recurrent miscarriage refers to 3 or more consecutive miscarriages (in a row). 1-2% of Australian women will experience recurrent miscarriage.

Septic Miscarriage (Infection)

A septic miscarriage is a miscarriage associated with an infection in the uterus. Abnormal discharge or having a temperature may be signs of a septic miscarriage.

Threatened Miscarriage

A threatened miscarriage is when your body shows signs that you may miscarry. Symptoms can include spotting or bleeding, cramping, and abdominal pain. You may have an ultrasound that shows your baby has a slow heart rate or slower than expected growth. Threatened miscarriage signs may go away, and you can continue to have a healthy pregnancy if the cervix remains closed. Otherwise, threatened miscarriage will result in one of the outcomes explained above.

Illustrated icon of a heart

At Miscarriage Australia, we recognise that people identify with pregnancy differently. We acknowledge people of all genders, sexual identities, sexual orientations, races, cultures, religions, and beliefs.

The purpose of this website is to provide information to the general population. We acknowledge the terminology used is universal and not intended to exclude any person(s). Throughout our website, we will be referring to:

  • The embryo or foetus as “embryo or foetus.”
  • The placenta and tissues that developed as part of the pregnancy, including the embryo or foetus, as “pregnancy tissues.”
  • The uterus
  • The person carrying the pregnancy as “woman.”

The term “specialist” refers to Obstetrician & Gynaecologists, Fertility Specialists, or IVF Specialists (depending on your situation).

Last Updated: October 20th, 2022