Give advice on women's health concerns.

How Long Does a Miscarriage Last?

A miscarriage can be painful, both physically and mentally, and it can last for several days. To cope with the mental agony, some women need counseling.
Chandramita Bora
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2018
A miscarriage can be termed a natural or spontaneous abortion, resulting in termination of pregnancy. It can be one of the worst experiences for a woman, not only due to the bleeding and physical pain associated with it, but also due to the feeling of losing the unborn.
It, generally occurs within 24 weeks of pregnancy, with most of the cases occurring within the first 12 weeks. Miscarriages have been frequently observed in women over 35 years of age.
The Causes
◘ There can be several causes of a miscarriage; chromosomal abnormality of the embryo, being one of the most common causes. Chromosomal defects of the embryo may or may not have any association with the genetic disorders of the parents.
Sometimes, genetic defects of the embryo may either be a matter of chance, while during other times, it may be carried by either, or both parents. Chromosomal defects of the embryo, usually, may lead to this problem in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
◘ A miscarriage taking place during the third trimester is commonly related to certain illnesses contracted by the woman and not to chromosomal defects.
Such illnesses include poorly controlled diabetes, infection caused by herpes simplex virus and chlamydia, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), high blood pressure, rubella, etc. Hypothyroidism, too, may be counted a potential risk factor.
◘ Sometimes, it may be a result of hormonal imbalances taking place in a woman's body. Progesterone is a crucial hormone for sustaining pregnancy as it prepares the lining of the uterus to hold the fertilized egg. So, a low level of progesterone can result in the termination of pregnancy.
◘ Abnormalities of the uterus and cervix -- either present from birth, or developed at a later age -- also accounts for approximately 15% of miscarriages.
An autoimmune response may be counted as one of the most important reasons where the immune system of the expectant woman recognizes the baby as a foreign object as half of its genetic material comes from the father. Autoimmune diseases and presence of certain antibodies may also increase the risk.
The Duration
☛ The first sign is spotting blood or mild bleeding. But for most women, bleeding is common in the early stages of pregnancy. This does not necessarily indicate a miscarriage. However, it has been observed that approximately 50% of the cases of bleeding during early pregnancy result in miscarriages, or certain other complications.
Along with bleeding, it is often accompanied with mild, or severe abdominal cramping. In addition to these, one may also suffer from back pain. Bleeding as well as cramping, usually worsen until the body completely expels the pregnancy tissues and placenta.
A miscarriage can last for several days, or weeks depending on a number of factors. It is, mainly determined by the time taken by the body to eliminate all the pregnancy tissues. For some women, bleeding and cramping can settle within a week, while in others it can last for about 3 weeks.
The majority of the cases of miscarriage, usually settle within 2 weeks, though in certain instances, it has been observed to last only for a day. It may be possible for some women to experience it without much bleeding and difficulties if the embryo is reabsorbed by the body.
☛ Know that cramps and bleeding are the predominant signs of a natural miscarriage. You may pass large blood clots in the first few weeks of the miscarriage. It, sure is a traumatizing experience, especially when the tissues pass in the form of clots.
You may have to collect the tissues for testing; however, if the tissues fall in the lavatory, do not try to retrieve it. Know that the culture may not be submitted for testing. Besides, the cramping and bleeding should stop a few weeks down the line.
Generally, heavy and prolonged bleeding takes place in case of an incomplete miscarriage where the body fails to expel the remains of pregnancy. Thus, the duration can vary from woman to woman, but if it lasts for more than two weeks, it is better to inform your physician.
This is because bleeding and abdominal cramps lasting more than two weeks is an indicator of incomplete pregnancy, which means that some pregnancy tissues are still present in your body. This, in turn can cause infection and other complications. An incomplete miscarriage may need medication, or surgery for removing the remaining pregnancy tissues.
Call Your Doctor
✆ If you suffer severe abdominal discomfort that lasts for long. -- This is one indicator that signals the development of an infection. Fever may also accompany abdominal pain; this, too, indicates the onset of an infection. It may be treated with the doctor prescribing antibiotic medicines.
✆ If you have uncontrollable bleeding and cramping. -- Passing of large blood clots and the need to change your sanitary napkin every hour calls for immediate medical attention.
If this pattern continues for more than two weeks post medical intervention, a dilation and curettage procedure is required. Here, the lining of the endometrium is scrapped to ensure no tissue remains in the womb.
✆ If you notice an irregular bleeding pattern; one that starts and stops intermittently continuing for a few days to weeks. -- This, too, indicates the need for medical attention along with the conduction of certain procedures.
Post the Miscarriage
Every woman anticipates the arrival of her baby with joy and pleasure aplenty. However, when she miscarries, she is deluded with a sense of guilt and disillusionment. Anger and unhappiness toward yourself, wishing you never knew you were expecting in the first place, is experienced by most women. Nevertheless, this is normal.
Oversensitivity to everybody and everything around is a marked behavioral change. You may have mixed feelings; on one hand you may want to cling to all those baby reminders, but on the other, you may want to get rid of them without much thought.
Besides, women are susceptible to feeling dejected and deprived of the joy of bearing and rearing a child to a point of doubting themselves, even when they know that it was not their fault. During such difficult times, women must find themselves a confidante to narrate unfiltered experiences and feelings.
Nevertheless, there are times, too, when women are not able to cope with the loss. If you feel overwhelmed and depressed with life to a point of inviting suicidal thoughts, seek help from a medical professional.
Though bleeding and physical pain of a miscarriage usually disappear within a few weeks, the emotional trauma seems to continue for long. To ensure that recurrent or multiple miscarriages do not take place, consult your physician, and take some precautionary measures.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a normal weight, and avoiding alcohol and smoking are some measures that would help you in the process. However, multiple miscarriages require some tests to be performed to find the exact causes in order to prevent their recurrences.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is meant to accomplish pedagogical purposes only. The recommendations mentioned hereby may not be generically applicable. These details, by no means, intend to supplant the diagnosis and advice imparted by the medical practitioner.