Surgical management

If the medical option hasn’t been completely successful, or if you are bleeding heavily or have an infection, you may be advised to have surgery.

If you have a missed or incomplete miscarriage, you will be offered the choice to have surgery to remove the contents of your womb. Surgical management is most likely to be recommended by your doctor if  the medical option hasn’t been completely successful, or if you are bleeding heavily or have an infection.

The surgery is usually carried out under a general anaesthetic so you will be admitted to hospital. Alternatively, many hospitals now offer a process called Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA), that can be carried out whilst you are awake. In either case, it is likely to be a planned operation so you will have some time to prepare.

The operation involves gently opening your cervix with a small tube and removing any remaining pregnancy tissue with a suction device.[KP2]  Women who are rhesus negative will be given an injection of anti-D medication before surgery.

You may hear this referred to as SMM (Surgical Management of Miscarriage) or D&C (Dilatation and Curettage) or ERPC (Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception).

On the day of the operation you can expect strong cramps, like period pains. These will lessen in the immediate days following the operation. You can expect to experience vaginal bleeding for one to two weeks after the procedure. For the first couple of days this will be like a heavy period and then get lighter.

 It has a 95 percent success rate.

Afterwards the hospital will often send samples of the tissue to the laboratory to make sure everything has been removedbut unless this is your third miscarriage in a row, it’s unlikely you’ll receive more tests at this stage as most women will go on to have a successful pregnancy in future.The risk of infection is similar for medical and surgical management.

It can still be a very sad, traumatic and worrying time.  The hospital will provide you with details of where you and your partner can go for counselling and support. 

Read more about miscarriage management

  • Sad woman talking to health professional.

    Expectant management

    Letting your miscarriage happen naturally is also called ‘expectant management.’

  • Woman's hand holding two pills.

    Medical managment

    If you have a missed or incomplete miscarriage, you will be offered the option to take some medicine to help the miscarriage to get underway.

Sources

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

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