Pregnancy Tests After Miscarriage – How Long Until It’s Negative?
When a pregnancy ends suddenly, like in the case of miscarriage, it can take some time for your hormones to return to normal and recalibrate. The hormone measured by pregnancy tests, hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is only made in high levels while you’re pregnant and these levels usually rise in a predictable way.
But what happens when a pregnancy ends? In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the ins and outs of pregnancy tests after miscarriage. We’ll take a look at what hCG levels can look like, how long it can take until they are negative, and trying to conceive again. We’ll also cover some of the most frequently asked questions about taking pregnancy tests after miscarriage and what to expect to be ready for another pregnancy.
hCG levels after miscarriage
Testing for the presence of hCG in urine is one of the primary ways we determine if an individual is pregnant. Although you may find trace amounts in your system at other times, hCG is really only produced in high levels when you’re pregnant and peaks around the 8th to 11th week of pregnancy. When you miscarry, your body will halt the production of hCG and levels will gradually return to their pre-pregnancy baseline.
While there is a range of what is considered “normal”, hCG levels can vary depending on the individual and the stage of pregnancy. Accordingly, how long hCG stays in your system will depend on how far along you were in your pregnancy as well as other lifestyle factors. The exact levels to expect will depend on how high hCG levels were immediately prior to the loss. If hCG remains elevated, this could be a sign that something more serious is going on (like in the rare case of a molar pregnancy) and should be investigated by your doctor.
How long will a pregnancy test be positive after a miscarriage?
How long it takes for your hCG level to gradually return to normal will depend on how far along you were in your pregnancy and what kind of pregnancy you had. Levels may persist even after miscarriage but will generally start to fall and return to their baseline or pre-pregnancy levels, which can take up to 6 weeks. If your pregnancy ended very early you will likely have low levels of hCG whereas if your pregnancy was further along you will have more in your bloodstream.
An early pregnancy loss, or one that occurs shortly after implantation, means your hCG levels were lower and will likely return to baseline in less time. Even though levels of the hormone were being produced at a rate high enough to be detected on a pregnancy test, they will fall rapidly without successful implantation. It may only take days for your hCG levels to return to normal after early miscarriage.
Miscarriage later in pregnancy
Your hCG levels double every 2-3 days at the beginning of a pregnancy and peak around week 10. A miscarriage that occurs later in pregnancy means you will have more hCG in your blood and levels may naturally take longer to return to a pre-pregnancy baseline.
Trying to get pregnant again
Traditionally, many doctors recommend waiting several months before trying to conceive again after a miscarriage. Although there is no medical evidence to wait this long, each situation is different and will depend on multiple factors including your personal medical history.
How long should you wait?
Miscarriage can take both a physical and emotional toll and it’s important to wait until your mind and body are both fully ready. Physically, once hCG is back to its pre-pregnancy levels and ovulation has resumed, your body is able to get pregnant again. Although recent research has debunked the need for an extended wait, it’s important to allow your body to heal and for your pregnancy hormones to normalize.
Why should you wait?
Allowing your body to heal is an important reason to wait before getting pregnant again.
Aside from giving you time to emotionally process the events, it gives your body a chance to return to optimal conditions to support a new pregnancy.
Allowing body to return to pre-pregnancy state
It can take time for your body to recalibrate and return to its pre-pregnancy state. As your hormones regulate, your menstrual cycle will gradually return to a normal pattern and you can track your cycle for ideal timing.
Avoiding false positives pregnancies
It can take weeks or months for your hormones to return to normal after a pregnancy loss. Because pregnancy tests detect hCG in urine, your test results may be inaccurate if your hormones haven’t fully returned to baseline.
If there is still hCG in your system from the previous pregnancy, you could get a “false positive” and think you’re pregnant when you’re not. Not waiting long enough before trying again can make it harder in the long run by making testing inaccurate and possibly complicating your care (more on your fertility after a miscarriage here).
FAQs about pregnancy tests after miscarriage
Have questions about pregnancy tests after miscarriage? We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions for you.
Do hCG levels need to drop to 0 before trying to conceive again?
hCG can remain in your bloodstream for weeks after a miscarriage and how long it takes for levels to drop to 0 will vary from woman to woman. Women used to be advised to wait at least three months before getting pregnant again, but experts now agree that there is no reason to delay pregnancy after you have experienced an early pregnancy loss. Ask your doctor how long you should wait in your situation since recommendations will depend on multiple factors unique to your health.
Can I take a pregnancy test to see if I miscarried?
Because hCG can remain in your bloodstream for weeks following a pregnancy loss, it is not recommended to use a pregnancy test to see if you miscarried. You may still get a false-positive test reading from the hCG in your system.
If you have a pregnancy test show a negative result after previously receiving a positive one, it can be a sign of a chemical pregnancy or early miscarriage. However, it’s best to not rely on a home pregnancy test for this kind of information and instead see a doctor.
Can you ovulate with hCG in your system after a miscarriage?
HCG naturally suppresses ovulation by ensuring the corpus luteum continues to produce progesterone throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. With hCG in your system, it will suppress your normal ovulation process and as your hormones regulate, your cycle will eventually return.
How do you confirm a miscarriage?
Your doctor will perform a few different tests to figure out exactly what is going on and if you have experienced a miscarriage. These may include a blood test to check hormone levels, a pelvic exam, ultrasound, or pregnancy test among others.