What Is a Missed Miscarriage?

A missed miscarriage occurs when an embryo or fetus dies without being expelled from the expectant mother's body, and, thus, the mother is unaware that her pregnancy has terminated itself, explains Women's Health. Missed miscarriages may require medical intervention to remove the tissues associated with pregnancy to prevent infection.

The symptoms of a missed miscarriage include a sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms, the absence of a fetal heartbeat on ultrasound, and discharge or bleeding, says Women's Health. Other symptoms of a missed miscarriage, such as nausea and fatigue, can be confused with symptoms of pregnancy. Confirmation of a missed miscarriage usually takes place through an ultrasound on which a fetal heartbeat cannot be found. Most miscarriages, including missed miscarriages, take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Only about 1 percent of pregnancies end in missed miscarriage.

The treatments for a missed miscarriage include watchful waiting, where the doctor does nothing but monitor the mother for natural progression of the miscarriage, using the medications mifepristone or misoprostol to help the uterus empty the pregnancy contents, or one of a couple of surgical procedures called dilation and cutterage or vaccuum aspiration, where a doctor removes the contents of the uterus, explains WebMD. Alternate terms for a missed miscarriage are incomplete miscarriage or incomplete spontaneous abortion.