Getting pregnant after a miscarriage : How long should you wait?
To determine the length of time you need to wait to try to conceive again after a miscarriage, we need to answer two questions.
How long does it take the body to clear a pregnancy?
The first question is, how long does it take for the pregnancy tissue and all of the hormones to be completely out of your body.
If you had a very early miscarriage before the pregnancy was seen on an ultrasound, It won't take very long for your body to clear the pregnancy hormone hCG, because there wasn't much there in the first place.
For example, if you lost a pregnancy a week after you missed your period, it might only take a few days for your hCG levels to return to normal.
What if you have a later miscarriage or a D&C? Should you wait a longer period of time before trying? Does having a period mean it's safe to start trying again?
I will answer all of these questions and more.
How long does it take after a later miscarriage?
If you had a later miscarriage in which a sac or fetus was seen on ultrasound, it is going to take longer to resolve. It could take anywhere from a few weeks to several weeks.
How long does it take after having a D&C?
Women who have a D&C to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus will generally see the remaining hCG go away more quickly than women who pass the pregnancy on their own without a D&C.
We recommend that women follow their hCG levels after a miscarriage, using blood tests every week or two weeks to make sure that everything is resolving as it is supposed to.
There are times when the tissue and hormones do not completely clear out as they should. If we find this has happened, then there are additional treatments we might recommend. Luckily, this doesn't happen very often.
Does vaginal bleeding indicate the pregnancy has resolved?
In our experience, vaginal bleeding ,or a period, is an unreliable way to figure out when the pregnancy is completely out of your system.
Here's why: When the pregnancy tissue is first expelled, a woman will usually experience vaginal bleeding lasting for several days. This is normal. At that point, the hCG levels in her blood will start dropping.
A few weeks later, when the hCG levels are close to being gone, she might have bleeding again. But not always. Why not?
Sometimes, when the hCG level gets low enough, a woman will start to mature a new egg in preparation for ovulation. This causes her estrogen to increase, and that could result in her not getting a period. In fact, it is possible for a woman to ovulate and get pregnant again within two weeks of the day she had a miscarriage.
This is another reason why following the hCG levels after a miscarriage is generally a good idea.
How long should you wait before trying to conceive again?
OK, let's say that all of the pregnancy tissue and hormones are gone from your body.
How long should you wait after that to attempt pregnancy again? The correct answer is that you shouldn't wait at all. You should try to get pregnant again as soon as possible. This is different from what we told women in the past.
Many years ago, doctors would tell women to wait for three months or even longer before attempting pregnancy again. It is important to understand that these old recommendations were not based on any scientific evidence.
Now we have very good scientific evidence to back up our recommendations. A study looked at over 1,000 women that had an early miscarriage but were interested in trying to conceive again.
Researchers divided the women into two groups based on how long they waited before trying to conceive again. The first group were couples that tried to conceive again right away - in three months or less. I'll call them the fast start group.
The second group were those couples that decided to wait for longer than three months before trying to conceive again. I'll call them the slow start group.
How did each group do?
The couples in both groups were tracked for six months after they started trying.
Does wait time influence the overall chance for conception?
The results are pretty amazing. First, the fast start group became pregnant more often. About 70% of couples became pregnant in the Fast Start group, compared to only 50% and the slow start group.
Second, the fast start group took less time to become pregnant. In fact, the fast starters conceive 71% faster than the slow start group.
Is the risk for miscarriage higher if you try to conceive right away?
Some of you might be worried about trying to conceive again right away and it might increase the chances for another miscarriage. This wasn't the case .
In a 2017 study, the miscarriage rate and the fast start and slow start groups were the same. However, in another study, researchers actually found a lower miscarriage rate and a fast start group.
Ultimately, 53% of the fast start group had a live birth, compared to 36% of the slow start group.
Our bottom line is this: It is going to take some time for all of the pregnancy tissue and hormones to be cleared from your system. The shorter your pregnancy was, the faster it's going to be cleared.
If you're up for it, try to conceive again as quickly as possible. Odds are you will be able to conceive again more quickly and overall have a greater chance of becoming pregnant and having a live birth.
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