If you think you're having a miscarriage, contact your midwife or doctor. You'll have a physical exam, perhaps an ultrasound scan as well. If the miscarriage is complete and the uterus is clear, then no further treatment is usually required. Occasionally, the uterus is not completely evacuated and a dilation and curettage or a simpler office procedure is performed to remove any remaining tissue.
Causes and Prevention
About half of the miscarriages that occur are caused by genetic abnormalities, which may be hereditary or spontaneous, in the father's sperm or the mother's egg. The other half are caused by a variety of known and unknown factors, including infection (mumps, for instance, in the first trimester increases the risk for miscarriage) and exposure to environmental and workplace hazards. Pesticides, the effects of Agent Orange (dioxin) experienced by some Vietnam Veterans, tap water near industrial sites, and using a video display terminal more than 20 hours a week.
Other factors behind miscarriage are hormonal irregularities; uterine abnormalities; radiation; and drugs, including the acne drug, Accutane, and others, whether recreational (including alcohol), over-the-counter, or prescription.
Severe malnutrition can cause a miscarriage, as can an elevated blood sugar level in women with diabetes. If dietary problems are the culprit, then an improved diet sometimes helps prevent miscarriage. Induced ovulation with fertility drugs sometimes result in miscarriages, as does in vitro fertilization. Two prenatal tests, amniocentesis and chorionic villi, are also associated with a slight risk for miscarriages.