Types of miscarriage

If you do suffer a miscarriage, there can be a confusing array of medical terms used to describe it and to describe the treatment that you may receive for it. We still don’t understand why every miscarriage happens, but for those we do, a particular name for that miscarriage may be used.

The type of miscarriage you experience will give you more information about the causes in your case.

Early miscarriage

Is a miscarriage that happens in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Read more...

Late miscarriage 

Is a miscarriage  which happens after 12 weeks but before 24 weeks. Read more...


Is the loss of a pregnancy after 24 weeks. Read more...

Complete miscarriage

Is a loss that does not require clinical intervention for the pregnancy tissues to come away from your womb.

Incomplete miscarriage

Is a miscarriage that begins naturally, but not all the pregnancy tissues come away from the womb. Read more...

Missed miscarriage

Is a miscarriage without any symptoms, so you may not realise that the baby has stopped growing or that anything is wrong until the loss is discovered at a routine scan. Read more...

Delayed miscarriage

Is another term to describe missed miscarriage.

Other medical descriptions that you may hear in connection to miscarriage are explained in our list of NHS terms.

Chemical pregnancy

A chemical pregnancy is the term given to a pregnancy  confirmed by a blood test or a home pregnancy test but not yet visible on an ultrasound scan (usually up until about 5 weeks of gestation). Read more...

Molar pregnancy

A molar pregnancy is a very rare complication About 1 in 700 pregnancies in the UK is molar. It can happen when something goes wrong in the early stages of fertilisation that means that the baby and placenta don’t develop properly. Read more...

Recurrent miscarriage

Only 1 in 100 women  suffer three or more miscarriages in a row. Doctors refer to this as recurrent miscarriage. Read more...

Miscarriage statistics

For many of these women a miscarriage may have occurred so early that they weren’t actually aware that they were pregnant. Read our miscarriage statistics for more information, including the statistics related to age.

Find out more about the causes of a miscarriage.

Find out more about how common miscarriage is.

Other types of miscarriage

  • Chemical pregnancy

    A chemical pregnancy is the term given to a pregnancy which ends in miscarriage before the fifth week of gestation.

  • Health professional comforting woman.

    Missed miscarriage

    This type of miscarriage can be really shocking for a mother.

  • Partner comforting woman.

    Incomplete miscarriage

    If you start to miscarrying naturally, and experience some bleeding, this indicates that the pregnancy is over and the process of losing your baby is underway.

  • Woman looking sad.

    Recurrent miscarriage

    Around one percent of all women experience recurrent miscarriage. Doctors define this as the loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies.

  • A woman who has experienced early miscarriage.

    Early miscarriage

    Most miscarriages occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Miscarriages that happen in this period are called early miscarriages.

  • Corn field at sunset.

    Late miscarriage

    A late miscarriage is also called a second trimester miscarriage.

  • Ectopic pregnancy diagram.

    Ectopic pregnancy

    An ectopic pregnancy is a condition that occurs when a fertilised egg attaches itself somewhere outside the uterus.

  • Molar pregnancy

    A molar pregnancy is a very rare complication of pregnancy. It occurs when something goes wrong during the initial fertilisation process and the placenta or the fetus do not develop properly.


1. NICE (2012) Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management in early pregnancy of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, clinical guideline CG154, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

2. Stillbirth (Definition) Act 1992, Definition of stillborn child, Section 1(1), London The Stationery Office, 1992

3. RCOG (2008) Early miscarriage: information for you, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, , 2008

4. RCOG (2008) Bleeding and Pain in early pregnancy: information for you, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2008

5. RCOG (2012) Recurrent and late miscarriage: tests and treatment of couples, information for you, London Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Hide details

Last reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.

Was this information useful?

Yes No