Going through a miscarriage at any stage is devastating, and the fear of it happening again may hold some back from trying to conceive again. But don’t worry — if you’ve miscarried before, the odds of you having a successful pregnancy isn’t different from anybody else’s. You must have some questions on how soon to try again, what to expect and more. Let’s dive right in.
The first step is to wait for it to be safe to have sex. After a miscarriage, your body will likely dispel the contents of the uterus on its own. If not, a dilation and curettage (D&C) is required to surgically remove them. This will likely take about two weeks; but women who’ve had a D&C might need to wait a little longer to control the bleeding.
While it’s safe to have sex then, it usually takes around two months or a full menstrual cycle for any chance to conceive again. Assuming the miscarriage happened before 13 weeks, some women may ovulate as soon as two weeks after. But generally, it takes about two full months for the cycle to return to normal. This however depends on how far along in the pregnancy the woman is. The further the pregnancy, the higher the pregnancy hormones, the longer the wait.
Waiting for the menstrual cycle to regulate again also ensures that hCG, a pregnancy hormone, dips low enough till it’s undetectable by the body. Once this happens, the uterine lining also returns to normal, making it ready to receive a fertilised embryo.
It’s not dangerous to try for pregnancy before waiting for the menstrual cycle to reset, but this might result in a false positive on a pregnancy test — meaning the test kit may show you’re pregnant, but you’re actually not. This is because the pregnancy hormones might still be in your body.
There’s no proof whether it’s harder or easier to conceive again after a miscarriage, but a 2016 study found that 70% of women who miscarried conceived within three months. More research has to be done, but this study alone shows that it might not be that difficult to get pregnant again after all. Even if it takes longer for you, don’t give up hope! I usually advise patients to use this opportunity to treat any underlying health conditions that may have contributed to the miscarriage. For example, health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure can make it harder to get pregnant. Solving these issues could increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Some people believe that their chances of miscarrying increase after a miscarriage, but this is in fact not true. Rather, now that you are armed with more knowledge, the chances of having a successful and healthy pregnancy are higher. According to the American Pregnancy Association, at least 85% of women who suffer a miscarriage go on to have healthy, full-term pregnancies.
Even if you’ve had multiple miscarriages, there’s still a likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy. Women who’ve miscarried twice have about a 75% chance of carrying their pregnancy to term; and women who’ve miscarried three or four times have a 60-65% chance.
Address any underlying health issues
If you haven’t, consider going for a preconception screening. Generally, these checkups screen for anaemia, Thalassemia and infectious diseases.
Make sure you are at a healthy weight
Being underweight or overweight may decrease your fertility and increase your risk of having a miscarriage.
Manage your stress
It may be stressful trying to conceive again especially after a miscarriage, but high levels of stress might make it harder. Try deep breathing exercises, exercising or doing yoga to help manage your stress. If need be, consider talking to a professional to help alleviate your anxiety.
Reduce or cut out caffeine and alcohol intake
Studies show that too much caffeine can lower fertility and trigger miscarriages. As a rule of thumb, try not to go over 200mg of caffeine daily (that’s about 2 shots of espresso or 1.5 cups of coffee). And if you drink, it’s best to abstain from alcohol.
Smoking increases the rate of infertility about twice. Try to stay away from secondhand smoke too.
If your last pregnancy ended with a loss, you might find yourself overwhelmed with emotions like anxiety, guilt and grief. Take your time to recover mentally and emotionally, and once you’re ready to try again, remember that the odds of having a successful and healthy pregnancy are in your favour.
This article was written and medically reviewed by Dr Tan Poh Kok (PK Tan), a Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at PK Women’s Specialist Clinic.