What Causes a Miscarriage in Your First Trimester

About miscarriage

Miscarriage is one of the most common early complications of pregnancy, and sadly one quarter of pregnancies result in miscarriages.It occurs during the first few months of pregnancy, and although it’s common, it’s relatively devastating, with the main sign being vaginal bleeding or spotting.

Its symptoms vary from weight loss, vaginal tissue clotted, contractions, cramp/pain in the abdomen, and lightheadedness.

Causes of miscarriage in your first trimester

A miscarriage usually occurs when there is a chromosomal abnormality, during the development of a baby from a female and male cell. If something goes wrong in this process, the pregnancy will stop developing.

Early pregnancy loss is more common in women of older ages than younger women, but a miscarriage can also occur when a developing pregnancy did not place itself properly into the lining of the uterus (womb), which is in some cases of ectopic pregnancy. It has the same symptoms like abnormal bleeding and vaginal bleeding.

Causes of miscarriage in first trimester:

  1. Age:  women less than 15 or older 35 are at a risk of pregnancy loss
  1. Chronic Medical Conditions:  If there are various chronic medical conditions such as Diabetes and Thyroid diseases, these could lead to pregnancy loss in cases where  chromosomal abnormality is ruled out
  1. Womb structure abnormalities and Infertility: In cases of previous infertility, it can lead to early pregnancy loss. Cervical insufficiency and uterine abnormality are in relation to pregnancy loss and abnormally shaped womb can cause foetal risk
  1. Unhealthy Habits and lifestyle factors: smoking during pregnancy, drinking excessive alcohol and using illicit drugs during pregnancy
  1. Chromosome problems: In cases of chromosomal abnormality  a foetus can receive the wrong number of chromosomes causing abnormal development
  1. Other causes of not having a healthy pregnancy might be having excessive amounts of (Caffeine can be found in foods not just coffee) caffeine during pregnancy, food poisoning, physical trauma, taking certain medicines, infections

Symptoms, treatment and prevention

Symptoms of a miscarriage

This most common sign of miscarriage, which many women don't often realise, can be as follows:

  1. Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  2. Pain or cramping in the abdomen or lower back
  3. Fluid or Tissue passing from vagina
  4. Feeling dizzy or lightheaded 
  5. Others include: contractions, vaginal discharge

Treatment for a miscarriage

A miscarriage occurs when a foetus is no longer alive and there are ways to treat the miscarriage. Most often, most women that have vaginal spotting or bleeding in the first trimester go on to have successful pregnancies

  1. Pain medication: You can use over the counter (OTC) pain meds like ibuprofen (motrin) to help ease pain and cramping
  2. Go see a doctor and the required health providers 

Prevention for a miscarriage

Miscarriage can’t really be prevented, but the risk can be reduced by avoiding the various causes of miscarriage, such as a few lifestyle changes.

  • Avoid the unhealthy habits listed above 
  • Eat healthy
  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Avoid certain infections


Is miscarriage painful?

Miscarriage can be painful or not, depending on the case - some say that  it wasn't physically painful, but pain is said to be relative. Few women mentioned they weren't aware when it started, as it involves cramping, majorly heavy or light like most regular periods.

How long does miscarriage take?

Miscarriage length varies for every woman to get rid of the vaginal tissue and it depends on various factors:

  • Pregnancy weeks
  • Body expulsion time of the tissues and placenta
  • Amount of kids before miscarriage( Number of kids you were pregnant with)

Every woman varies, and for some the cramping and bleeding only occurs for a few days whilst others can bleed for up to two weeks.

What are the risk factors for a miscarriage

  • Age: Women that are older than age 35 have a higher risk of marriages than younger women
  • Weight: Being overweight or underweight might trigger it
  • Conceiving after infertility
  • Chronic medical conditions

Can I still get pregnant after a miscarriage?

After early pregnancy loss occurs, within four to six weeks you are going to be able to conceive again. You just have to monitor your cycle closely.

But in cases of recurrent miscarriages, your doctor may suggest the proper and adequate solutions. It is advisable  that you stay away from sex, tampons or douching for 2 weeks. It is recommended to wait until after 2 normal periods while you check with the doctor.

When should I try to get pregnant after a miscarriage?

In cases of recurrent pregnancy loss, work with your doctor to ensure when the pregnancy is to occur and how to be planned. 

When a pregnancy loss occurs, it's advisable to wait and observe when the body would be able to get pregnant after 2-5 normal periods with consistency like your previous cycles. Although it has been said that a certain time is set to get pregnant again, it's advised you work with your doctor for the right drugs and take time to heal both professionally and emotionally.


Miscarriage, medically known as spontaneous abortion, can occur in various forms: incomplete, threatened; and late miscarriages.

Bleeding in early pregnancy is not always a pregnancy loss, with signs including cramping and passing out vaginal tissue. 

Only a healthcare professional can accurately decide  if a pregnancy is lost, and it is important to consult a doctor or expert for any bleeding. This article helps you understand the causes, treatment, prevention and what to expect from a first trimester miscarriage (before 20 weeks).


  1. What is a miscarriage? | causes of miscarriage [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 16]. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/miscarriage
  2. Hinga E, M.S., R.D., March 1 registered dietitian |, 2021. Foods and beverages to avoid during pregnancy [Internet]. BabyCenter]. https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/diet-and-fitness/foods-and-beverages-to-avoid-during-pregnancy_10348544
  3. Miscarriage - Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2022 Nov 16]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-loss-miscarriage/symptoms-causes/syc-20354298
  4. Miscarriage: causes, symptoms, risks, treatment & prevention [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2022 Nov 16]. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9688-miscarriage
  5. Miscarriage, loss and grief [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 16]. Available from: https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/miscarriage-loss-and-grief.
  6. Miscarriage - causes [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2022 Nov 16]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/causes/
  7. Alliance G, Screening Services TNY-M-AC for G and N. CHROMOSOMAL ABNORMALITIES [Internet]. Genetic Alliance; 2009 [cited 2022 Nov 16]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK115545/
  8. Vaginal bleeding [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 2022 Nov 16]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/vaginal-bleeding/
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Mary Komolafe

Bachelor of Applied Science - BASc, Biochemistry, Ondo state university

Mary is an undergraduate biochemistry student in her final year with 5 years of exposure to clinical writing sector.
She is a healthcare content writer freelancing alongside being a mental health advocate currently volunteering to various organizations.

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