1. Pregnancy
  2. Pregnancy health
  3. Miscarriage

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Symptoms After Miscarriage: What to Expect

The term “miscarriage” refers to the loss of an early pregnancy. A miscarriage is also known as a spontaneous abortion, and it tends to happen before week 20 of a pregnancy. Miscarriages account for 26 percent of all pregnancies, and 80 percent of them tend to occur in the first trimester. 

This article can help you understand what to expect after a miscarriage.

A miscarriage can affect your body in many ways due to the fluctuating hormones it causes. You might experience different symptoms both during and after a miscarriage. 

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of miscarriage include:

  • Vaginal spotting and bleeding
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Expulsion of clots or tissue
  • Loss of other pregnancy symptoms like nausea
  • Abdominal cramps

These symptoms happen because, in a way, your body is going through very premature labor. After the miscarriage, your body will start to recover over several weeks. These are some of the symptoms that you could experience during this early recovery period:

  • Light bleeding or spotting
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Breast discomfort or enlargement

Your hormones after a miscarriage can be in flux and will probably need a few weeks to return to normal. Typically, the menstrual cycle recovers in four to six weeks, and ovulation can occur within two weeks. 

Bleeding usually stops within a couple of days or one week. 

The other after-effects of miscarriage should disappear within a few weeks. There are certain warning signs to keep in mind. Please contact your health care provider if you experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Bad-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Bright red bleeding
  • Heavy or prolonged bleeding
  • Severe abdominal pain

There are different types of miscarriage. Depending on the type, you may or may not need medical intervention to empty your uterus. Any fetal or membrane tissue that isn’t shed could lead to infections.

  • Threatened miscarriage is diagnosed when bleeding occurs with no other symptoms in early pregnancy. There are two treatment options. Either the bleeding stops and the pregnancy continues, or the bleeding increases and is accompanied by other symptoms.
  • Inevitable miscarriage can’t be prevented. In this case, the provider may advise you to let nature take its course.
  • Incomplete miscarriage means that some embryonic tissues are left in the uterus. This can cause severe bleeding, and it requires medical intervention.
  • Complete miscarriage occurs when the uterus empties on its own. Sometimes, people don’t need any intervention. This type is common in miscarriages before 12 weeks of gestation. An ultrasound check-up will ensure that the uterus is clear of any pregnancy tissue.

Your health care provider may prescribe medications if your uterus doesn’t empty. These drugs — mifepristone and misoprostol — stimulate uterine contractions to shed any remaining tissue. If this fails, a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C) is performed by a surgeon. 

People who experience symptoms of miscarriage need to be screened for Rh status. This is done with a blood test, and the results (positive or negative) indicate whether antibodies are present. Based on this result, your health care provider will decide whether to use a special substance (anti-Rh-D immunoglobulin) to prevent complications in any future pregnancies.

Your recovery time will depend on how much intervention you required and when the miscarriage happened. With this in mind, a health care provider can tell you which activities you can do in the period after a miscarriage.

You may be able to restart light daily activities if you feel well. You may be advised to not insert anything in your vagina for two weeks to prevent infection. This includes using tampons or having penetrative intercourse.

A few weeks after a miscarriage, you’ll need to have an appointment with your health care provider. A physical examination and ultrasound will ensure that your body is recovering. The health care provider can also order blood tests to confirm your level of hCG has returned to normal. hCG is a pregnancy hormone, and it should decrease after a miscarriage. A health care provider might also test you for anemia if you had heavy bleeding.

Fortunately for people who want to try again after a miscarriage, you won’t have to wait long — just long enough to make sure you’re physically and emotionally ready. 

Most health care providers agree that it’s safe to try to get pregnant after a miscarriage once you’ve had one normal menstrual cycle.

Check with your health care provider once you decide to conceive after a miscarriage. Your health care provider might order tests to rule out conditions that increase your risk of future miscarriages. Some conditions that can affect the risk of miscarriage include:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Infections

A health care provider can also give advice on healthy habits to prepare for pregnancy. These habits can include exercising, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and taking a prenatal supplement.

Ovulation after a miscarriage can happen within two weeks. Many people track their cycles using an app like Flo to improve their chances of getting pregnant after a miscarriage. 

For most people, miscarriage only happens once. Under five percent of women will experience more than one miscarriage, and only one percent have three or more during their lifetime. In most cases, fertility after a miscarriage normalizes quickly. 

For most people, the first period after miscarriage happens within four to six weeks. Since your hormone levels can take time to re-balance, a couple of cycles may elapse before your menstruation becomes regular again.

Flo can help you track your cycle and detect the signs that you’re about to ovulate after a miscarriage. This is especially helpful for people who are trying to get pregnant after a miscarriage.

Overcoming a miscarriage is deeply personal, and everyone’s journey is different. It’s absolutely okay to take your time. Despite a loss, you have every chance of getting pregnant again if you choose.

Carla Dugas, Valori H. Slane.”Miscarriage” NCBI, Bookshelf, Accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532992/

“Miscarriage.” Mayo Clinic, MFMER, Accessed July 16, 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-loss-miscarriage/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354304

Togas Tulandi ”Patient education: Miscarriage (Beyond the Basics).” UpToDate, UpToDate, Inc, Accessed Oct 09, 2019, https://www.uptodate.com/contents/miscarriage-beyond-the-basics

Sundermann, Alexandra C et al. “Interpregnancy Interval After Pregnancy Loss and Risk of Repeat Miscarriage.” Obstetrics and gynecology vol. 130,6 (2017): 1312-1318. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000002318

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