Early Pregnancy Loss…saying the right thing


Here is a list of some of the preferred terminology that is used to describe early pregnancy loss whilst minimising negative emotions, or feelings of guilt or failure that some of the older descriptions (in brackets) may trigger.

  • Miscarriage [ not spontaneous abortion]. Pregnancy loss occurring before 20 weeks gestation.
  • Threatened miscarriage [ not threatened abortion]. Vaginal bleeding (other than spotting) before 20 weeks gestation.
  • Inevitable miscarriage [ not inevitable abortion]. Miscarriage is imminent or in the process of happening.
  • Incomplete miscarriage [ not incomplete abortion]. Miscarriage where some of the foetus or placenta are unable to be expelled by the mother.
  • Missed miscarriage [not missed abortion]. Non-viable pregnancy confirmed on ultrasound with no bleeding.
  • Miscarriage with infection [not septic abortion]. A miscarriage complicated by pelvic infection.
  • Ectopic pregnancy. Foetus developing in Fallopian tube instead of uterus.
  • Anembryonic pregnancy [not blighted ovum]. Absence of foetal development despite fertilised egg implanting into the wall of the uterus.

Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation