Ovulation After Miscarriage: What to Expect from Your Body
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. While about 15 percent of women have a pregnancy that ends in miscarriage, just 1 percent of pregnant women experience two miscarriages in a row.
The only real factor that prevents pregnancy after miscarriage is when ovulation returns. This can differ from woman to woman. Some women can conceive within two weeks after a pregnancy loss, while others wait to conceive after a few months to a year. This blog post will help you know what to expect from your body as you recover from a miscarriage, so you can plan to start trying to conceive again.
Understanding What a Miscarriage Does to Your Body
If you had an early pregnancy loss, the bleeding usually stops after about a week. Bleeding can last longer if your pregnancy loss happened at a later time, such as the second trimester. 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.
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 soon can I get pregnant after a miscarriage?
As we discussed previously, 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.
Due to the conflicting evidence on whether or not you should wait three months, the decision to start trying again after miscarriage is up to you and your partner. However, if your previous pregnancy loss was due to a health issue, such as a molar pregnancy, you should consult with your OB/GYN before trying again.
Ovulation Signs and Tracking Ovulation After a Miscarriage
When you are emotionally and physically ready to try to conceive after a miscarriage, you will want to track your fertility hormones. By doing so, you can see when your menstrual cycle returns to normal.
During ovulation, a mature egg is released from the ovary, traveling down the fallopian tube. If it is fertilized by a sperm along the way, it implants itself into the thickened uterus lining as an embryo. If not, your uterine lining and the egg will both shed during your menstrual period.
Luteinizing hormone, or LH, is the fertility hormone that directly regulates ovulation. LH levels peak about 12-24 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. 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). These at-home tests work by detecting how much LH is present in your urine to determine if you are ovulating. They show a negative or positive result based on how your LH level compares to an average threshold during ovulation.
Unfortunately, many women end up having false-positive or false-negative test results, missing their ovulation and fertile days. This is because those LH hormone levels differ significantly from woman to woman and cycle to cycle — especially after a miscarriage.
Mira is a simple fertility hormone tracker you can use at home. You can use Mira to track your actual hormone concentrations and see your unique hormone curve. Mira aims to take the stress and guesswork out of ovulation. It tells you exactly when you are fertile and non-fertile.
Besides LH, 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. Elevated hCG often suppresses your ovulation. It needs to drop below 5 mIU/mL after a miscarriage, or your menstrual cycle won’t resume. Your doctor can use a blood or urine pregnancy test to measure your hCG levels and let you know when it is okay to start trying again.
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 typically aren’t 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. 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.
FAQs About Ovulating After Miscarriages
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. In case we haven’t yet answered your burning questions about ovulating after a miscarriage, here are the answers to what you need to know.
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.