Terms Explained: Terminology around miscarriage

If you or someone you love is facing a possible miscarriage, the many medical terms can be confusing. This infographic provides some quick definitions of common terms care providers use to talk about miscarriage.


Terminology Around Miscarriage

Spontaneous abortion: The medical term for a miscarriage.

Chemical pregnancy: A very early miscarriage, usually due to chromosomal abnormalities. The miscarriage occurs at or slightly after an expected period because implantation has not occurred. After implantation, a miscarriage is called “clinical” rather than “chemical.”

Blighted ovum: An early miscarriage where conception and implantation occur but development to the point of a heartbeat  does not. This type of miscarriage is identified by an empty gestational sac and is often called a “missed miscarriage.”

Threatened miscarriage: Vaginal bleeding before 20 weeks of pregnancy accompanied by a closed cervix. About half of threatened miscarriages result in live births.

Inevitable miscarriage: Vaginal bleeding before 20 weeks of pregnancy accompanied by a dilated cervix. This diagnosis means that the baby is very unlikely to survive.

Incomplete abortion: A medical condition where after a miscarriage delivery, some elements of the baby or of the tissue supporting pregnancy remain in the uterus. When the uterus is empty, the condition is a “complete abortion.”

Early/late miscarriage: A miscarriage that occurs before/after the beginning of week 14 of pregnancy.

Compiled by Abby Jorgensen, the Sociologist Doula


Medical information from https://progyny.com/education/female-infertility/types-miscarriage/ and https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/complications/miscarriage/types-of-miscarriage-every-woman-should-know/

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