Incomplete Miscarriage

Last Updated: August 18, 2018

Definition - What does Incomplete Miscarriage mean?

An incomplete miscarriage occurs when all the products of conception are not expelled from the uterus after a miscarriage. Any fetal or placental tissue remaining in the uterus can lead to medical complications.

An incomplete miscarriage may also be known by the medical term incomplete abortion.

FertilitySmarts explains Incomplete Miscarriage

When a miscarriage or induced abortion ends a pregnancy but does not expel all fetal or placental tissue, severe bleeding or infection can occur and prompt medical attention is required.

Symptoms of an incomplete miscarriage may include:

  • Heavy bleeding can occur if the fetus or placenta is not properly expelled. This can be defined as soaking two maxi pads for two hours in a row, the passage of large clots, or any bleeding which is sufficient to cause sensations of lightheadedness.
  • Fever that lasts for more than a few hours following a miscarriage or induced abortion may be a sign of infection. Infections of the uterus can become severe and require prompt attention from a medical provider.
  • Symptoms of pregnancy lasting more than two weeks after a suspected miscarriage or attempted induced abortion may be an indicator of continued pregnancy.
  • Persistent or severe pelvic pain. While some pain is normal any time a pregnancy ends, pain that does not go away with the use of pain relievers and a heating pad, or which persists for several days, could be a sign of infection or another complication.

It is normal for pregnancy symptoms to continue for one or two weeks following the end of pregnancy due to the hormones that remain in the blood. It is also normal to have positive pregnancy tests for four to six weeks following the end of pregnancy, for the same reason

Treatment for incomplete miscarriage can vary depending on the severity of the complications. In some cases, hormonal medication or antibiotics may be sufficient to encourage the expulsion of any remaining tissue and treat a minor infection.

In other cases, a dilation and curettage - also called a D&C - might be necessary. In a D&C, medication is used to dilate the cervix so that doctors can remove any remaining fetal or placental tissue.

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