In some people, the cause of a miscarriage is not known. In others, it may happen due to:

  • Problems in the chromosomes (common cause)
  • Abnormal structure or issues in the uterine tract, such as fibroids
  • Problem with hormones, such as not having enough hormone (progesterone) to support pregnancy
  • Immune system problems, such as blood clotting problems or rejection of the fetus
  • Trauma

Risk Factors

A miscarriage is more common in people 35 years of age and older. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Infection
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs during pregnancy
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Exposure to certain toxins in the environment
  • Problems with the immune system, such as systemic lupus erythematosus
  • High dose radiation therapy on the ovaries, uterus, or the pituitary gland during childhood cancer treatment



Problems may be:

  • Vaginal bleeding or pink or brown discharge
  • Cramping
  • Passing the fetus, placenta, and surrounding tissues through the vagina
  • Fever


The doctor will ask about symptoms, past health, and when the miscarriage happened. Physical and pelvic exams will be done. Passed tissues may be tested. The uterus may need to be viewed. This can be done with an ultrasound.



Early or first trimester miscarriages may only need monitoring. Medicine may be needed if there is heavy bleeding or cramping.

A dilation and evacuation (D&E) may be needed if all tissue does not pass through the vagina. The doctor will remove any remaining tissue.

Support Services

It can be hard to cope after a miscarriage. A counselor or support group can help.


Treatment may help prevent future miscarriages if a specific cause was found.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.