Ovulation After Miscarriage: Signs of a Return to Normal
The loss of a pregnancy can be physically and emotionally challenging, but it should not stop you from trying again when you are ready. The good news is that most miscarriages are a once-off incident and the only real factor that prevents pregnancy after miscarriage is when ovulation returns.
This blog post will help you know what to expect from your body as you recover from a miscarriage, when ovulation after miscarriage is possible, and what to look for if you’re TTC.
How soon after a miscarriage can you ovulate?
If you are trying to conceive after a miscarriage, your doctor may recommend waiting a few months to allow your body to not only recover physically, but emotionally as well. However, each individual situation is different and the best way to navigate pregnancy after a miscarriage is under the guidance of an OBGYN who knows your full medical history.
How soon can I get pregnant after a miscarriage?
Many doctors recommend waiting three to six months before trying to conceive again after a miscarriage. But do you really have to wait that long? The answer is usually no.
One recent study has actually shown that a very short interpregnancy interval of fewer than three months has no detrimental effects on pregnancy outcomes. There is no difference in terms of live birth rates, rates of miscarriage, or rates of pregnancy complications between women who get pregnant sooner than three months and women who get pregnant three or more months after miscarriage.
Another study actually showed that women who conceive earlier after a miscarriage may have better outcomes and fewer complications.
Signs of ovulation after miscarriage
When you are emotionally and physically ready to try to conceive after a miscarriage, you will want to be aware of your body’s hormonal fluctuations, fertile window, and day of ovulation. Knowing this information enables you and your partner to plan sex at the times when you have the greatest chance of getting pregnant.
In order to know when your body is ovulating after a miscarriage, here are a few signs to be aware of.
Surge in luteinizing hormone (LH)
Luteinizing hormone, or LH, is the fertility hormone that directly regulates ovulation and LH levels peak about 10-12 hours before you ovulate. Because an egg only lives up to 24 hours after ovulation, your most fertile day is often the day of the LH surge and the day of ovulation. LH levels should remain low for the rest of the menstrual cycle unless you have a condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) that affects your hormones.
LH can be tested using ovulation prediction kits (OPKs) or with hormone tracking systems like Mira.
Change in basal body temperature
Right before ovulation, your basal body temperature will drop slightly and then increases shortly after ovulation. Many women record their temperature daily in order to spot this sudden drop in temperature before ovulation in order to know when they are the most likely to conceive. This is known as the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) method.
To try this method at home, you should take your temperature with a digital or basal thermometer at the same time each day – for example, each morning when you wake up. You should then document your results daily on a chart. By monitoring your temperature on a regular basis, you will be able to more accurately predict and confirm ovulation.
Pain or cramping
It is common for some women to experience pain in their lower abdomen when they ovulate. This is often referred to as “mittelschmerz” or “middle pain” in German, and it is caused by the processes behind ovulation.
It typically starts around two weeks before your period, and it may occur on either the left or right side of your lower abdomen, depending on which ovary is releasing an egg. How long the pain lasts varies among women, with some experiencing ovulation pain for only a few minutes, while others may experience it for a few days.
Other common symptoms of ovulation include changes in cervical mucus, changes in the positioning and texture of the cervix, and increased libido. Additionally, some women may also experience light spotting, cramping, bloating, and breast tenderness.
Understanding what a miscarriage does to your body
If you had an early pregnancy loss, bleeding usually stops after about a week. If your pregnancy loss happened at a later time, such as the second trimester, bleeding can last longer. As the bleeding resolves, your hormone levels will return to normal, and your menstrual cycle will resume.
Your menstrual cycle can be unpredictable during the first few months after a pregnancy loss. As your hormones regulate, the menstrual cycle will gradually return to a normal pattern. If you had irregular menstrual cycles before the pregnancy, your cycle will most likely remain irregular after the pregnancy loss.
Ovulation can return in as little as two weeks after losing a pregnancy. In most cases, women who miscarry will return to their normal menstrual cycle within three months (more on missed miscarriages here). However, it is almost impossible to pinpoint exactly when you can start trying to conceive again. This is especially true for women of older age and who have abnormalities in their reproductive tract.
Many healthcare practitioners recommend waiting at least three months to get pregnant again after experiencing a miscarriage. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends waiting longer, such as six months, in order to reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. However, more recent studies have shown that there is not necessarily a greater risk of pregnancy complications if pregnancy occurs within three months of a miscarriage.
Recurrent miscarriages may increase the risk of molar pregnancy. A molar pregnancy may look like a healthy pregnancy at first, but it is actually a tumor that develops in the uterus at the beginning of a pregnancy. Most of these tumors are benign, but rarely they may develop into cancer. 90% of women who have a molar pregnancy removed require no further treatment, but if you have the rare malignant type of tumor, you may need chemotherapy or radiation.
How to Increase Your Odds of Getting Pregnant After a Miscarriage
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent an early miscarriage. Most miscarriages are caused by genetic abnormalities or birth defects in the fetus that prevent it from being able to grow properly.
These genetic abnormalities aren’t typically inherited from either parent — usually, they result from mutations that occur as the embryo begins to develop. However, you can prevent some types of birth defects by quitting smoking and drinking alcohol as soon as you start trying to conceive.
Just do your best to lead a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, and make sure to take your prenatal vitamins. Try not to stress out too much about the previous miscarriage, as it has nothing to do with your ability to have a healthy baby. Only 2% of women will have two miscarriages in a row and most women go on to have normal pregnancies after a miscarriage, especially if they are younger than age 35.
If you find yourself experiencing anxiety or depression after your miscarriage, know that these feelings are natural. Losing a baby is emotionally challenging, and there is no shame in having had a miscarriage. You may consider talking to a therapist or psychologist about the way you are feeling to reduce stress and anxiety prior to getting pregnant again.
Ovulation after miscarriage FAQs
It’s normal to have a lot of questions after experiencing a miscarriage. Going through a pregnancy loss can lead to feelings of anxiety and uncertainty before trying to get pregnant again.
Are you more fertile after a miscarriage?
A common question women ask after having a miscarriage is whether they are now more fertile than they were before the miscarriage. The idea is that having a miscarriage “resets” your menstrual cycle. This misconception is based on the results of an old study from 2003, which showed that women were more likely to get pregnant in the first cycle after a miscarriage.
In reality, we don’t know for certain how miscarriages affect a woman’s fertility. How fertile you are after a miscarriage mostly depends on when you start ovulating again, which could take weeks to months for some women.
However, you might be more likely to have a successful pregnancy if you try to get pregnant again sooner rather than later. One study found that pregnancies within six months of a miscarriage were less likely to end in another miscarriage or preterm birth.
What are my chances of getting pregnant after a miscarriage?
You will be relieved to know that having a miscarriage does not negatively impact your chances of conceiving successfully. Miscarriages are incredibly common, resulting from 1 in 4 confirmed pregnancies, and while they are difficult to go through, most women can go on to have a healthy pregnancy afterward.
You should know that you’re less likely to have another miscarriage if you are under age 35, as fertility drastically declines after age 35. It’s also important to recognize that there is a difference between having a single miscarriage and having two or more when it comes to the effects of miscarriages on your fertility.
The risk of miscarriage increases with the number of consecutive miscarriages. After one miscarriage, your risk of a second consecutive miscarriage is 20%. After two consecutive miscarriages, the risk increases to 28% — and after three consecutive miscarriages, the risk is 43%.
While these statistics may seem disheartening, it does mean that most women who have one or more miscarriages can still go on to have a healthy pregnancy. Talk to your OB/GYN if you are especially concerned about your odds of getting pregnant after your miscarriage, but know that you most likely have nothing to worry about.
How do I track hormones after a miscarriage?
The best way to track your hormones after a miscarriage is by using an at-home hormone tracking system like Mira. Mira enables you to track your actual hormone concentrations of LH and Estrogen on a regular basis. Over time, you can then see your unique hormone curve on the Mira app – taking the stress and guesswork out of ovulation. The Mira app can also give you insight into when you are the most fertile.
In addition to LH and Estrogen, another hormone you want to pay attention to when recovering from a miscarriage is the pregnancy hormone hCG. Your hCG level is elevated when you are pregnant, and elevated hCG levels suppress ovulation. After a miscarriage, hCG levels need to drop below 5 mIU/mL for your menstrual cycle to resume (and your pregnancy tests to return to normal). To measure your exact hCG, you will need to have a blood or urine test at your doctor’s office.