What is miscarriage? Pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized by male sperm and travels down a fallopian tube into the womb, or uterus. In some cases, the fertilized egg (fetus) is unable to survive a full term, which is 40 weeks. If the loss occurs during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is called a miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy (Source: ACOG). Miscarriages occurring after the first half of pregnancy are called preterm deliveries, or fetal demise. Overall, the rate of miscarriage is about 15 to 20% of pregnancies. The widespread popularity of at-home pregnancy tests (and early pregnancy confirmation) has caused miscarriage rates to rise to a level higher than previously believed (Source: NIH). Many theories exist regarding loss of pregnancy, but no one knows for sure why miscarriage occurs. Potential causes of miscarriage include pre-existing gynecologic conditions, exposure to toxicities (including pollution, drugs or alcohol, and chemicals), autoimmune diseases, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and genetic factors. Contrary to common belief, exercise and maternal sexual activity are not risk factors for miscarriage. Miscarriage is accompanied by symptoms of bleeding, spotting, cramping, nausea, and pelvic pain. Some women do not realize they are pregnant until they miscarry. Miscarriage can be devastating for a woman and her partner. Counseling is available to assure the woman that the miscarriage was not her fault and to provide help dealing with other emotional or mental symptoms. It is important to know the warning signs of miscarriage. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, haveserious symptoms such as spotting or bleeding, heavy or persistent cramping, gushing of fluid or blood without pain or other symptoms, and discharged fetal tissue, especially if you are or suspect you may be pregnant.