Miscarriage: Different Types

Whether it’s your first pregnancy or your fifth, and whether you just started trying to conceive or it’s been several months, finding out you’re pregnant is one of the most memorable moments of your life. Images of tiny outfits, nursery decor ideas, and possible names come to mind almost immediately. Thoughts of anything going wrong with the pregnancy are likely far from the front of your mind, but of course, we know it does happen. According to the American Pregnancy Association, somewhere between 10-25% of all clinically-confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Regardless of when a miscarriage occurs, it’s a heartbreaking thing to have to endure and it comes along with many emotions and questions. Being informed about different types of miscarriage certainly won’t make it any less painful. However, it can help you understand you didn’t do anything wrong and can be a step toward beginning to heal.

Understanding Miscarriage

Miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy, typically before 20 weeks of gestation. The vast majority of miscarriages happen before 12 weeks. There are a number of causes and unfortunately, a specific one can often not be identified.

The most common cause is chromosomal abnormality, meaning that something is not correct with the baby’s chromosomes. This typically causes damage to an egg or sperm cell. Other causes of miscarriage include hormonal problems, something going wrong with the implantation of the egg, lifestyle (substance abuse, underlying health issues, malnutrition, etc), and a number of environmental factors.

Types of Miscarriage

The American Pregnancy Association explains, “Miscarriage is often a process and not a single event.” Miscarriage is complex, and each different type has unique symptoms, treatment, and recovery guidelines.


In a chemical miscarriage, the egg is fertilized but never properly implants. This often results in minor bleeding that begins right around the same time as an expected period. This makes it so many women never even realize they conceived. There are no clinical signs of miscarriage, such as a fetus, which is why this type of miscarriage is termed “chemical.” It is believed that chemical pregnancies account for somewhere between 50-75% of all miscarriages.


This is considered a possible miscarriage and is indicated by uterine bleeding. It happens early in pregnancy when the cervix remains closed and there is fetal heart activity. It’s often accompanied by backaches and cramps and is often caused by implantation. Your doctor may want to monitor you closely or may recommend bed rest, particularly if you’ve previously suffered a miscarriage.

Inevitable Or Incomplete

When the cervix has begun to open or efface and there is uterine bleeding, a miscarriage is considered inevitable. If no pregnancy tissue – the fetus or placenta – has passed through the woman’s body, or only part of it has, it’s an incomplete miscarriage. Bleeding and cramps can persist until all of the fetus or placenta is removed from the uterus. Doctors often perform a minor procedure called a D&C (dilation and curettage) to complete this process.


In a complete miscarriage, the woman’s body expels the entire fetus naturally. Bleeding, pain, and cramping occurs as the uterus passes the fetal tissue. Most often, tissue is passed in the form of clots of various sizes. It is recommended you make an appointment with your doctor or fertility clinic to confirm the miscarriage has completed by either ultrasound or D&C.


In some cases, women can tragically miscarry and not even realize it because there are no symptoms and the embryo is not expelled. These “missed” miscarriages are most often revealed at a routine prenatal appointment when the doctor cannot find the baby’s heartbeat. It is largely unknown what causes this.


Women who have suffered three or more miscarriages in a row, typically in the first trimester, are said to have “recurrent” miscarriages. This is rare, affecting approximately 1% of couples trying to conceive.

No matter what type of miscarriage yours is defined as or its cause, we understand it’s devastating. If you’ve suffered from any of these issues and want to discuss fertility, schedule a consultation with Viera Fertility Clinic in Melbourne. We are here to guide you and answer all of your questions.