What has gone wrong?
Many miscarriages happen because the embryo fails to grow in the early days of pregnancy. This is often before the mother realises she is pregnant. The placenta, however, continues to grow for a short time, giving all the signs of pregnancy. Eventually the placenta fails and the uterus contracts to expel the tissues. This can cause bleeding and pain. Sometimes, some tissues stay inside the uterus causing heavy bleeding and the risk of infection.
This small operation will make sure that you have no pregnancy tissues left in your uterus. It will stop your bleeding and reduce your risk of infection. The operation is called an ‘evacuation’ and the tissues left in your uterus are called ‘products of conception’. The full name of this operation is therefore ‘evacuation of retained products of conception’ or ERPC for short.
Your uterus should return to normal within a few weeks. Your bleeding will stop and you will be less at risk of infection.
What if you do nothing?
Without an operation, your uterus will either discharge the pregnancy tissues or absorb them, but this could take many weeks. During this time there can be serious bleeding or infection, which may rarely be life threatening.
Are there any alternatives?
Medication can be given to speed up your body’s natural processes. You will either discharge or absorb the tissues and you are likely to have some bleeding and pain during this time. Medication can be very effective but the time it takes varies. It is not always effective so you may still need a surgical evacuation. This is a good option if you are prepared to accept the uncertainty.
Author: Dr David Hutchon F.R.C.O.G. Consultant Gynaecologist.
© Dumas Ltd 2006