Incomplete miscarriage

An incomplete miscarriage is when a miscarriage begins, but the pregnancy doesn’t completely come away from the womb.

What is an incomplete miscarriage?

Sometimes not all of the pregnancy comes away after a miscarriage. An incomplete miscarriage is when a miscarriage begins, but some pregnancy tissue stays in the womb.

Signs of an incomplete miscarriage

All women have some bleeding or pain during and after a miscarriage. But if you have an incomplete miscarriage, you may have these symptoms:

  • heavy bleeding – get medical help if you’re soaking through a pad in an hour
  • bleeding that carries on and doesn’t settle down
  • passing blood clots
  • increasing tummy pain, which may feel like cramps or contractions
  • a raised temperature (fever) and flu-like symptoms.

Get medical help straightaway if you experience any of these warning signs.

Treatment for an incomplete miscarriage

If you have an incomplete miscarriage, you’ll need to have treatment. There are 3 options available:

Your doctor should talk with you about what may be the best option for you. You should be given some time for the diagnosis to sink in and to think about what you want to do.

“It's OK to take your time over making a decision. You may have a gut feeling about how to manage the miscarriage, you may not. Talk through your options with the medical professionals. I know they are incredibly busy, but we needed and wanted answers. I phoned the number we were given after our second missed miscarriage and asked all the questions I had. This helped us make a decision.”

How you are treated is your choice. However, you may be advised to have surgery immediately if there are any problems, such as infections.

Find out more about how your miscarriage will be managed.

Your emotional health

Miscarriage can be devastating. You may be struggling with grief, anxiety and shock, but you do not need to go through this alone. There are lots of organisations that can provide advice and support.

If you’re worried that you or your partner are struggling to cope after losing a baby, please talk to your GP. They will be able to help you get the support you need.

You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife for free. You can call them Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm on 0800 0147 800 or you can email them at [email protected]. Our midwives are trained in bereavement support so will be able to talk to you about what you’re going through.

Find out more about support after a miscarriage.

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2016) Early miscarriage

Clinical Knowledge Summaries. Miscarriage!topicSummary (Page last reviewed May 2018 Next update due: December 2023)