Is It Possible to Have a Miscarriage Without Bleeding?

How a Miscarriage Can Be Diagnosed Even Before Symptoms Occur

Woman's Stomach
Getty Images/Laurence Monneret

More women are claiming that they had no bleeding or other miscarriage symptoms before being diagnosed, but is it really possible for a woman to have a miscarriage without no bleeding?

A Miscarriage with No Bleeding?

Unfortunately, yes--it is possible to have a miscarriage with no bleeding or cramping before the diagnosis, but the typical symptoms will eventually follow. While it sounds unlikely, diagnosing a miscarriage before symptoms raise the question may be becoming more common as medical practitioners run earlier routine ultrasounds and checks.

Missed Miscarriages

When a miscarriage is diagnosed without bleeding, a situation called "missed miscarriage" or "blighted ovum," the reason usually is that the body hasn't yet recognized that the pregnancy has miscarried.

Miscarriages rarely begin the instant the baby has passed away, but rather after the mother's hormone levels drop, which signals to the body that the pregnancy is no longer viable and to begin the process of shedding the uterine lining. This can take a few days or weeks, which is why ultrasounds performed after early pregnancy bleeding will often show that the baby passed one to two weeks before the actual onset of the bleeding.

But if an ultrasound is performed for some other reason, such as a routine check for a heartbeat, it is possible for the ultrasound to detect that the baby has miscarried before the mother has begun to have any miscarriage symptoms, and she may even still feel pregnant.

The Symptom Timeline and Medically Induced Miscarriage

In most cases, the miscarriage bleeding would start on its own within two weeks following the diagnosis. But given the uncertainty of the time range and the emotional aspects of carrying a nonviable pregnancy, many moms opt for a D&C or medically induced miscarriage once the diagnosis has been confirmed, preferring to get the physical aspect of the miscarriage over with as quickly as possible.

Other Signs of Miscarriage

Most miscarriages occur during the first trimester (before 12 weeks). The most common cause of miscarriage is chromosomal anomalies--either too many or few chromosomes. Such anomalies occur during conception when the egg meets the sperm. Unfortunately, such chromosomal problems are not preventable.

The most common sign or symptom associated with miscarriage is bleeding. This symptom occurs when products of conception pass from the uterus through the cervix and vagina. Nevertheless, there are other symptoms of miscarriage including the following:

  • Cramping in the back
  • Pain in the back
  • Stomach cramps
  • Stomach pains
  • Very early loss of morning sickness (keep in mind that morning sickness typically goes away by the fifth month of pregnancy)

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms--even if bleeding is absent--please contact your physician immediately.

Should I Be Worried?

A possible missed miscarriage is scary to any pregnant woman, and worry may be warranted because it does happen.

However, the majority of pregnancies continue without these complications. Sadly miscarriage is just something that happens sometimes, and most of the time there isn't anything anyone can do to affect the outcome, especially in the first trimester. If you are feeling anxious about your own pregnancy, you can ask your physician about having hCG blood tests or an early ultrasound done to confirm that the baby is growing as expected.

Source:

Miscarriage. March of Dimes. Accessed: Aug 11, 2009. http://www.marchofdimes.com/printableArticles/14332_1192.asp

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