A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy that happens sometime during the first 23 weeks. Around three quarters of miscarriages happen during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (the first trimester).
The main symptom of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, which may be followed by cramping and pain in your lower abdomen. If you have vaginal bleeding, contact your maternity team or early pregnancy unit at your local hospital straight away.
Read more about the symptoms of miscarriage.
While a miscarriage does not usually seriously affect a woman's physical health, it can have a significant emotional impact. Many couples experience feelings of loss and grief.
You may also need treatment to remove any tissue that left in your womb. Read more about treating miscarriage.
For most women, a miscarriage is a one-off event and they go on to have a successful pregnancy in the future.
What causes a miscarriage?
It is thought that two thirds of early miscarriages are due to abnormal chromosomes in the baby. Chromosomes are genetic "building blocks" that guide the development of a baby. If a baby has too many or not enough chromosomes, the pregnancy can end in miscarriage.
In later miscarriages, a problem with the womb or cervix (neck of the womb) may be the cause.
Read more about what causes a miscarriage.
How common are miscarriages?
Miscarriages are much more common than most people realise. This may be because many women who have had a miscarriage prefer not to talk about it.
Among women who know they are pregnant, it is estimated that 12% of these pregnancies will end in miscarriage. This is around one in eight pregnancies. Many more miscarriages occur before a woman is even aware that she has become pregnant.
Losing three or more pregnancies in a row (recurrent miscarriages) is uncommon and affects around 1 in 100 women. Even in cases of recurrent miscarriages, an estimated three quarters of women go on to have a successful pregnancy in the future.