A missed miscarriage, also known as a missed abortion or a silent miscarriage, occurs when a fetus is no longer alive, but the body does not recognize the pregnancy loss or expel the pregnancy tissue. As a result, the placenta may continue to release hormones, so you may continue to experience signs of pregnancy.
A doctor will usually diagnose this condition during a routine checkup, when a fetal heartbeat is absent. A subsequent ultrasound will show an underdeveloped fetus.
Signs and Rates of Missed Miscarriage
A missed miscarriage is often known as a silent miscarriage because people often don’t exhibit the most common miscarriage symptoms, such as:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Heavy cramping
- Expulsion of fetal tissue
However, some may notice that their pregnancy symptoms, like breast tenderness, nausea, or fatigue, may disappear. Some women may also have brownish or red vaginal discharge.
Approximately 1-5% of all pregnancies will result in a missed miscarriage.
Causes and Treatments for Missed Miscarriage
Chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus are the most often cause of missed miscarriages, since these abnormalities do not allow the pregnancy to develop.
If a miscarriage has occurred early in pregnancy, you will often be able to expel the pregnancy tissue naturally. If this doesn’t happen, your doctor will likely recommend a D&C procedure, during which the cervix is opened, and the contents of pregnancy are removed. This can cut down on infections, which may occur if the fetal tissue remains in your body.
After a missed miscarriage, couples are encouraged to wait at least one menstrual cycle before trying to conceive again.
If you have had more than one miscarriage, a consultation with a fertility doctor may be advisable.
Dr. Alan Copperman is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with a long history of success in treating infertility and applying fertility preservation technologies. He serves as Medical Director of Progyny, a leading fertility benefits management company, and co-founded and serves as Medical Director of RMA of New York, one of the largest and most prestigious IVF centers in the country. Dr. Copperman is also the Vice Chairman and Director of Infertility for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Medical Officer of Sema4, a health information company. Dr. Copperman has been named to New York magazine’s list of Best Doctors 17 years in a row. He has been recognized by his peers and patient advocacy organizations for his commitment to patient-focused and data-driven care. He has published more than 100 original manuscripts and book chapters on reproductive medicine and has co-authored over 300 scientific abstracts on infertility, in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, ovum donation, and reproductive genetics.