Threatened Abortion: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Threatened Abortion – Reasons, Signs & Treatment

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Nearly every pregnant mother has had the most dreadful thought cross her mind; of a miscarriage. Which is why most mothers take utmost precaution in ensuring the baby is not harmed in any case. However, at times, pregnant women could experience health issues like unexplained pain or vaginal bleeding. Such situations need to be addressed immediately since they could signify a threatened abortion. Read on to know more about threatened abortion, its causes, signs and treatment.

What Is Threatened Abortion or Threatened Miscarriage?

In the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, nearly 1/3rd of women experience bleeding from the vagina, and most of them do complete the entire term of pregnancy. However, in some mothers, vaginal bleeding could be accompanied by abdominal cramping and pain in the region. These signs could indicate the possibility of a miscarriage, needing a pre-emptive measures to protect the mother. Since it is a possibility, it is termed as a threatened abortion or a threatened miscarriage.

Symptoms of Threatened Abortion

Nearly all threatened abortions are preceded by vaginal bleeding, which majorly occurs in the initial 20 weeks of pregnancy. Here are some more symptoms of threatened abortion:

  • Cramping in the abdominal area, along with vaginal bleeding.
  • Either dull but constant or sharp pain in the lower back or the abdominal region.
  • A clot or a tissue passing out from their vagina.


Let’s take a look at what could lead to a threatened abortion.

Causes of Threatened Abortion

Now that you know the symptoms of threatened abortion, you must also understand what causes it. Here are some of the causes of a threatened abortion/threatened miscarriage:

  • Certain anomalies such as Down syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome, and Patau syndrome, present in the chromosomes of the embryo have been termed to be responsible for a miscarriage in the initial stages of pregnancy.
  • Most women face threatened abortion due to a cervix that can’t hold the baby. Other reasons like fibroids of the uterus, or even the presence of other diseases and conditions could lead to threatened miscarriage/abortion.
  • Any swelling or inflammation in the interior parts of the uterus could trigger a miscarriage as well.
  • Feverish chills, extreme fatigue, and physical, mental, and emotional stress are all factors that could cause a threatened abortion.
  • Mothers who have had multiple children have higher chances of a threatened miscarriage.
  • The blood types of the mother and the foetus could lead to threatened abortion. In the case of an Rh negative mother and an Rh positive foetus, the mother’s body would create antibodies to attack the foetus.

The cause of threatened abortion could be one or several of these as every woman goes through a major physical and mental change during pregnancy. The regular checkups come in handy to diagnose any signs and symptoms of threatened abortion and also prevent severe pregnancy-related complication. In the rest of the article, we shall talk about how it is diagnosed, treated, and if it could lead to more medical complications.

Diagnosis of Threatened Miscarriage

In the case of vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain, every pregnant woman should get a thorough diagnosis done for threatened abortion. Doctors start from the source of the problem and try to pinpoint the reason for vaginal bleeding. Simultaneously, they also check if the amniotic sac is intact. This examination usually involves checking the vagina, uterus and the cervix for any anomalies.

The doctor would then recommend an ultrasound to check the foetal health, the heartbeat, and whether the growth is normal. For bleeding emerging from the uterus, an ultrasound helps confirm it, and allows the gynaecologist to take necessary actions. In the initial weeks of pregnancy, gynaecologists prefer images obtained from transvaginal ultrasound instead of a transabdominal because the image quality is better. The probe of a transvaginal ultrasound is inserted a few inches deep in the vagina to create a vivid image of the internal foetal structure using high-frequency sound waves. However, in cases of excessive bleeding, transabdominal ultrasound is preferred. Also, the images from trans vaginal cannot rule out anamolies, for which transabdominal ultrasound is preferred.


Since hormones can also be responsible for the condition, a blood test that includes a full blood count would be undertaken to measure the levels of HCG, (human chorionic gonadotropin), as well as progesterone. Both these hormones are produced to invoke and support pregnancy and are necessary to be present in a pregnant woman’s body in the right amount. However, the blood test can be done in early pregnancy only (upto a maximum of 12 weeks).

Treatment & Medication

In case the diagnosis indicates a threatened abortion, the patient would have to undergo treatment. Here’s what the gynaecologist is most likely to prescribe if there is a case of threatened miscarriage.

  • Bedrest is the primary requirement to recover from threatened abortion. Any kind of physical activity, including sexual intercourse, should be strongly avoided.
  • In case of the presence of diabetes or thyroid-related complications, the doctor might prescribe appropriate medication to treat them to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
  • In certain cases, when a mother’s blood type is Rh negative while the foetus’ is Rh positive, the mother’s body would start creating antibodies and combat the format of the foetus’ blood. In such cases, doctors administer Rh immunoglobulins to keep this behaviour in check.
  • If the tests reveal reduced levels of hormones, the gynaecologist will prescribe progesterone.
  • To stop the bleeding or uterine contractions, your gynaecologist may prescribe haemostatic drugs.

In most cases, treatment of threatened abortion/threatened miscarriage can lead to a full-term of pregnancy; however, some mothers-to-be might experience complications. Read on to know more.

Complications of Threatened Miscarriage

With any health-related condition, and especially when it comes to pregnancy, there are strong chances of complications occurring even after taking the right actions. Here are some complications of threatened abortion:

  • The mother-to-be could lose a substantial amount of blood and end up suffering from anaemia. In extreme conditions, doctors might even advise undertaking a blood transfusion in order to raise and normalise the iron levels in the blood quickly.
  • If she suffers from illnesses, an infection might make its way to the foetus.
  • The mother-to-be could experience a miscarriage, either because she loses her foetus or because the foetus is not in a state to be carried to full term. This can be quite taxing for the mother physically as well as emotionally. Complication such as ectopic pregnancy could also lead to a threatened abortion.

These complications are unavoidable in some cases, but taking preventive measures is always recommended to avoid threatened abortion/threatened miscarriage. Here are some ways you could prevent this condition.

Ways to Prevent Threatened Abortion or Threatened Miscarriage

The measures given below could help you prevent threatened abortion and carry for the entire pregnancy term.

  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and cigarettes completely.
  • Reduce the intake of caffeine-based drinks to the very minimal.
  • Refrain from consuming any food items that are known to be harmful during pregnancy.
  • Treat infections as soon as they are diagnosed.
  • Have a healthy and balanced diet, with supplementary vitamins and nutrients.
  • Follow a safe and healthy exercise routine under medical supervision.
  • Avoid exposure to harmful chemicals and polluted/stressful environments.

In case none of these measures has helped you prevent a threatened abortion, you must seek medical assistance immediately and follow the doctor’s instructions to the T.

Always ensure you have an open conversation with the gynaecologist and get answers to all your questions. You may also refer to the FAQs provided below before you consult your doctor.


1. Will I Be Able to Work After Threatened Abortion?

Listening to your body and understanding it is the best way to know if you’re ready for work or not. In case your work is physically intensive, then it is highly advised to take some more time off and get as much rest as possible to recover properly. If your work is mostly sedentary and you feel that you are well-rested and fine, you may gradually start going to work.


2. Will I Deliver a Healthy Baby After a Threatened Miscarriage?

Most women deliver healthy babies even after experiencing the conditions of a threatened miscarriage. It primarily depends on the conditions of the cervix, uterus, and your hormone levels.

In case you do suffer from a miscarriage, you can still have a successful pregnancy after that. If you have had multiple miscarriages sequentially, then a thorough examination is highly advised.

3. Which Month Is a Pregnant Woman Most Likely to Experience a Threatened Abortion?

Not all pregnant ladies experience threatened abortion; however, one in every seven mothers-to-be run a risk of a threatened miscarriage within 20 weeks of gestation.

Management of threatened abortion or threatened miscarriage is not simply a medical activity. The entire process can affect a mother emotionally and cause anxiety and stress during pregnancy. Talk to people who provide you with emotional support and don’t hesitate from undertaking therapy if required.


Also Read:

Medical Abortion
Period after Abortion

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