A miscarriage can be devastating. Women who have tried for a long time to get pregnant or who were relatively far along in their pregnancy may feel deeply traumatized. While miscarriage is tragic, it’s also common. About 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. So while you might feel alone, you’re not. A miscarriage does not mean you’re not able to get pregnant.
In fact, 85% of women who have a miscarriage will have a successful pregnancy next time they conceive. Even for women who have multiple miscarriages, the odds of a successful pregnancy are very good -- around 75%. Pregnancy after miscarriage is possible. In fact, in most cases, you can start trying again as soon as your miscarriage ends.
Pregnancy After Miscarriage: When Can I Try Again?
Google “pregnancy after miscarriage,” ask a doctor, or consult a friend and you’ll probably get different answers about when it’s safe to try again. So if you’re not sure, consult a fertility expert. In general, it is safe to begin trying again as soon as you have stopped bleeding. Having sex when you’re still bleeding is risky because it increases the risk of infection. That’s especially true if you are bleeding heavily or surgery was required to remove the pregnancy.
After bleeding disappears, it’s safe to try again right away. In fact, some women try again even before their next period returns. Miscarriage may temporarily affect your cycle as your body readjusts. So while it’s possible to ovulate about two weeks after your miscarriage, some women have to wait a little longer. Tracking your cycle, using an ovulation predictor kit, or working with a doctor can help you predict when you'll ovulate.
So how likely is a pregnancy after miscarriage? One study found that the odds of pregnancy actually increased immediately following a miscarriage. Another arrived at the opposite conclusion, finding that women took longer to get pregnant after a miscarriage. For now, the research is inconclusive, but one thing is certain: you can get pregnant after a miscarriage. In fact, it’s possible to be pregnant again just a few weeks after your miscarriage.
The likelihood of a successful pregnancy is ultimately an individual question. No website or odds calculator can tell you about your chances. That’s because each miscarriage happens for its own reason. Knowing and diagnosing the cause of miscarriage can help with assessing your chances of a future pregnancy. So ask your doctor if it’s possible to test to identify what caused your miscarriage.
Waiting for Your Cycles to Return
Pregnancy is a hormonal storm for your body. It takes your body a while to transition from pregnant to not-pregnant. In fact, you may still get a positive pregnancy test in the days following your miscarriage, since hCG levels can remain elevated for several weeks. It’s also difficult to track ovulation immediately after a miscarriage since your body might behave differently than it usually does. Women who monitor their basal body temperature, for example, sometimes find unusual patterns that make it more difficult to discern when ovulation is imminent.
That’s why some doctors recommend waiting until you get your first period to try again. There’s no medical reason to do this. Instead, waiting until your next period simply makes it easier to track when you ovulate and date a pregnancy if it occurs. Some women who conceive immediately after a miscarriage don’t know when they got pregnant or don’t test for pregnancy until they’ve been pregnant for several weeks. So if you plan to begin trying right away, it’s important to act as if you're already pregnant by avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and anything else that might harm the pregnancy.
Emotional Health Considerations
While there is rarely a medical reason to delay pregnancy, there are often emotional reasons to do so. Miscarriage can be a devastating loss. It can trigger immense anxiety about a subsequent pregnancy. The hormonal swings and physical changes that occur as the body transitions out of pregnancy can compound these feelings, causing a woman to feel sad, lonely, and overwhelmed.
A miscarriages also affects the woman’s partner. Sometimes partners grieve differently. Occasionally a miscarriage even causes problems in a relationship. This almost always gets better with time. But if your miscarriage has left you feeling depressed and anxious, or has caused problems in your relationship, consider waiting a few months. You deserve to feel healthy and confident when you begin trying for your next pregnancy.
Not sure if you’re ready? Ask yourself the following questions to help guide your choice:
- If I get pregnant right away will I be able to feel happy about it?
- Are my partner and I getting along and supporting one another?
- Am I trying to replace one baby with another?
- How will I feel if I don’t get pregnant right away?
- What if I have another miscarriage?
- Do I have good support from loved ones?
- Have I been able to talk about my miscarriage?
Ideally, you should have had a chance to talk about your miscarriage, and should know that one baby cannot replace another. If you feel like you have not yet processed your feelings, a support group, therapist, or compassionate friend may be able to help.
Physical Health Considerations
A miscarriage isn’t just an emotional trauma. It’s also a physical one. Pregnancy rapidly changes your body. The transition from pregnant to not-pregnant also takes its toll. Your hormones will rapidly shift. If your miscarriage was later in pregnancy, your uterus must shrink and your body must expel what’s left of the pregnancy.
These things take time. While most people are able to get through a miscarriage without serious physical health complications, a miscarriage can be hard on your body.
Some common complications include:
Incomplete miscarriage. This is when your body does not fully expel the pregnancy. A simple surgery can remove the rest of the pregnancy. If your pregnancy is relatively far along, the doctor may recommend surgery to prevent incomplete miscarriage.
Infection. Your uterus is more vulnerable to infection during a miscarriage. It’s important to avoid hot tubs and to not insert anything into the vagina until bleeding stops. If you do get an infection, do not try to get pregnant until the infection is gone. Doing so could make the infection worse or lead to another miscarriage.
Excessive bleeding. Especially if the miscarriage does not complete on its own or your pregnancy is relatively far along, you could bleed too much. If you notice very large blood clots or feel weak or woozy, call your doctor right away.
Anemia. Sometimes the blood loss of miscarriage causes anemia.
If you experience complications related to your miscarriage, it is important to talk to your doctor before trying for another pregnancy. Abstain from sex until you get the go-ahead from your doctor to try again.
Improving the Chances of a Successful Pregnancy
If you’ve had a miscarriage, you know your body is able to get pregnant. And in most cases, you’ll still be able to have a healthy pregnancy.
Miscarriage could be a sign of something more serious if:
- You have three or more miscarriages in a row.
- You are over 40 and have a miscarriage.
- You try for longer than a year to get pregnant and then have a miscarriage.
- You have another fertility issue, such as PCOS or low sperm count in the man. This decreases the chances of getting pregnant again.
So what can you do to make sure your next pregnancy results in a healthy baby? Most miscarriages can’t be prevented because they are due to chromosomal problems. However, a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of these issues.
Healthy living can also prevent other less common miscarriage causes. Try the following:
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs.
- Talk to a doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you use.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a balanced, healthy, nutrient-dense diet.
- Take a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid. Ask your doctor if you might need to switch to a folate-based prenatal vitamin.
Perhaps most importantly, time intercourse for your most fertile time of the month -- the day before ovulation through the day after ovulation. Ovulation predictor kits and basal body temperature readings can help you predict ovulation.
If you still haven’t gotten pregnant after a few months, a fertility specialist is your best ally. They can help determine what’s going wrong, and make recommendations about healthy changes that promote fertility.
If you have two or more miscarriages, a doctor might recommend testing the fetus. This can reveal important information about what caused the miscarriage. Some genetic tests can also reveal whether you have a genetic condition that increases the risk of miscarriage. Most doctors don’t do these tests. To get a full testing panel, you need to see a fertility specialist -- not your normal gynecologist or general practitioner.
Dealing With the Challenges of the Next Pregnancy
Women who have previously had a miscarriage may be overwhelmed by the fear of losing their next pregnancy. In most cases, you will not have another miscarriage. Your odds of a miscarriage drop as the pregnancy progresses, and are almost zero by the end of the first trimester. Information is power, so your doctor can help you assess your risk of a subsequent miscarriage. This miscarriage odds calculator may also help ease your anxious mind.
For women facing another pregnancy following a miscarriage, meditation, exercise, and stress management techniques may help. Know that in almost all cases, there’s nothing you did to cause the miscarriage and nothing you can do to prevent it. So take a few deep breaths and focus on enjoying your pregnancy. If your anxiety feels unbearable, a therapist may be able to help. Talk to your doctor or fertility specialist for help assessing your individual risks and assistance managing anxiety.
It’s important also to know that anxiety will not cause another miscarriage. This is a myth that makes pregnant women feel guilty and even more anxious. So while anxiety is unpleasant, you don’t need to be anxious about being anxious.
When to See a Fertility Specialist
A miscarriage does not necessarily mean there’s something wrong with you and your partner. In fact, most miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities that won’t happen in the next pregnancy. Regardless of the cause, you did nothing wrong. It’s not your fault.
So how do you know if a miscarriage is a sign of something more serious? Fertility has a ticking clock attached, especially if you’re already in your late thirties or your forties. So it’s important to err on the side of caution and seek expert guidance if there are signs of trouble.
See a fertility specialist to talk about miscarriages and other fertility issues if:
- You have a second-trimester miscarriage.
- You have two or more miscarriages in a row.
- You have been trying longer than a year to get pregnant, or if the woman is over 35, longer than six months.
- You have a medical condition, such as kidney failure, that may increase the risk of miscarriage.
- You take prescription medication that might not be safe during pregnancy.
At the Center of Reproductive Medicine, we know that a miscarriage can feel like a loss of hope. We talk to you about your miscarriage with compassion and concern, listening to your goals and working to understand your values and reproductive health goals.
We understand that every couple responds to miscarriage differently. Some need a few months to grieve. Others feel that the only way to ever recover is to get pregnant as soon as possible. There is no right or wrong way to feel, no right or wrong way to grieve. We understand the complexities and mixed emotions of miscarriage. We want to help you avoid ever experiencing this pain again.
We’re here for you. You can get pregnant after a miscarriage. It’s possible as early as your next cycle. So don’t waste time. Give us a call today.