You've just been diagnosed as having an incomplete miscarriage and in addition to feeling sad about the loss of your pregnancy, the idea that the episode is incomplete has you not a little bit frightened and wondering: "What next?" Your response is natural but your situation is not as dire as it seems. While the miscarriage may not have been complete, chances are your situation will resolve without any medical intervention.
A miscarriage is termed "incomplete" when there is bleeding and the cervix is found to be dilated, but the uterus retains tissue from the pregnancy. While the miscarriage may continue to take its course and become "complete," the body sometimes fails to clean out all the remnants of the pregnancy. In such a case, medical treatment becomes necessary to prevent complications such as infection which might lead to future infertility. It's important to note that an incomplete miscarriage is different than a diagnosis of a "missed miscarriage," in which the baby has stopped developing, but bleeding has not begun nor has the cervix opened.
The signs of an incomplete miscarriage include cramps and bleeding. Any pregnant woman with such symptoms should hasten to her physician to find out if her symptoms indicate a miscarriage, or signify a different complication of pregnancy. If your doctor diagnoses incomplete miscarriage, the two of you will need to discuss your options. Some women will need to have a D & C, while many women will choose to take a wait and see attitude in hopes that as in most cases of incomplete miscarriage, the situation will resolve itself with no medical intervention.
Incomplete miscarriage resolves on its own some 90% of the time, so it seems wise to wait a bit and see what happens. It's quite possible that the miscarriage will continue to take its course and you will have avoided an unnecessary medical procedure. Waiting longer than two weeks is not advisable, however, since retaining tissue inside the uterus for so long can lead to an infection.
Sometimes, even after a D & C, some tissue remains in the uterus, and the D & C will have to be repeated. For this reason, if you've had a D & C after an incomplete miscarriage and you continue to have cramping and bleeding for more than two weeks after the procedure, you'll need to see your doctor again so he can determine if you need further treatment.
While most women who retain tissue longer than two weeks after a diagnosis of miscarriage are treated with a D & C procedure, some physicians may offer medication, instead. Medications such as Cytotec (misoprostol) may give your body the help it needs to expel the remaining tissue without the need for surgery.