Tests and treatments
A cervical stitch can be used to support a weakened cervix and reduce the risk of giving birth prematurely. The stitch works by keeping the cervix closed. This is usually done after 12 weeks of pregnancy and is taken out around 37 weeks.
Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU)
An Early Pregnancy Unit is where you will be referred if you have any concerns during early pregnancy.
A pessary is a small block that is inserted into the vagina to treat infection or as a contraceptive.
Placebos are drugs or procedures that have no medical effect but can be used as a control when testing new drugs or treatments. This allows scientists to see if simply thinking that you are taking medication can make you feel better. This is known as the placebo effect. If a drug really works, it should be more effective than taking a placebo.
This is the medical term that professionals use to refer to your baby when they have died. You might think this is insensitive and it can be hard to hear, but professionals use this term when they are talking about medical procedures.
Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic (RMC)
Your GP will refer you to a Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic if you have experienced recurrent miscarriages.
Ultrasound scan (or sonogram)
An ultrasound scan (or sonogram) can be used to monitor a baby, make a diagnosis or help a surgeon during an operation. High-frequency sound waves create an image of the inside of your body, for example the womb. An external ultrasound uses an instrument (probe) which moves over the outside of your body to detect the sound waves. An internal ultrasound is when the probe is placed inside your body, for example the vagina, which is known as a transvaginal scan (TVS).
Other useful terms
Antibodies are produced by your immune system to fight disease and infections. They attach themselves to bacteria or viruses to weaken or destroy it.
Antiphospholipid syndrome (also known as Hughes syndrome, sticky bloody syndrome or APS)
Antiphospholipid syndrome is an immune system disorder that increases the risk of blood clots. It’s sometimes known as Hughes syndrome.
Blighted ovum (anembryonic pregnancy)
A blighted ovum happens whencells stop growing early on. Instead of developing into a baby, the tiny embryo is reabsorbed, causing a miscarriage. The pregnancy sac, where the baby should have grown, sometimes continues to develop.
The cervix is the lower part of the womb (uterus). It joins to the top of the vagina. It is sometimes called the neck of the womb.
Chromosomes are used as building blocks in a baby’s development, these rod-shaped structures (usually found in pairs in a cell nucleus) carry the genes. These genes decide the sex of the baby and the characteristics a baby inherits from its parents. A human body cell usually contains 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs (23 from the mother and 23 from the father).
A chromosomal abnormality happens if a baby carries too many or not enough chromosomes. This means it won’t be able to develop properly.
A hormone is a chemical that travels to different parts of the body where they help regulate and control how cells and organs work.
Lupus anticoagulant is an antibody that can cause clotting of blood in arteries and veins. This can sometimes lead to early miscarriage.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder, affecting people who have experienced emotional trauma. It can cause sleep disturbances, flashbacks, anxiety, tiredness and depression.
Stem cells are cells that are made by the body. They are a special kind of cell that can turn into many other types.
Rhesus disease is a condition where antibodies in the mother’s body destroy her baby’s blood cells.
A chemical pregnancy is when a pregnancy ends in miscarriage before five weeks of pregnancy.
Missed miscarriage (also known as a delayed or a silent miscarriage) can come as a big shock as there are none of the usual signs of miscarriage, such as bleeding or pain.
An incomplete miscarriage is when a miscarriage begins, but the pregnancy doesn’t completely come away from the womb.
Around 1% of women experience recurrent miscarriage. Doctors define this as 3 or more miscarriages in a row.
Most miscarriages occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Miscarriages that happen in this period are called early miscarriages.
Late miscarriage refers to a miscarriage that happens between 14 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy is a condition that happens when a fertilised egg attaches itself somewhere outside the uterus.
A molar pregnancy is when a fetus doesn’t form properly in the womb. It is a very rare complication of pregnancy.
Chaudhry K. and Siccardi M A. (2019) Blighted Ovum (Anembryonic Pregnancy), The National Center for Biotechnology Information
Olaniyi J A, et al (2011) Lupus anticoagulant (LA) in pregnant women with history of recurrent fetal loss. Journal of blood medicine.2011; 2: 87–90.
NHS Choices. Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antiphospholipid-syndrome/ (Page last reviewed: 21/08/2018. Next review due: 21/08/2018)
NHS Choices. Miscarriage overview. www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage (Page last reviewed: 01/06/2018. Next review due: 01/06/2021)
NHS Choices. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/ (Page last reviewed: 27/09/2018. Next review due: 27/09/2021)
NHS Choices. Rhesus disease. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rhesus-disease/ (Page last reviewed: 11/06/2018. Next review due: 11/06/2021)
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2018) Cervical stitch. https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/cervical-stitch/Hide details
ℹLast reviewed on April 30th, 2020. Next review date April 30th, 2023.