Miscarriage, the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy prior to 20 weeks, is a common event that can cause sadness, anxiety, and confusion about trying to conceive again. Estimates suggest that 10% to 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, but that number may be even higher since many early miscarriages may occur before a woman even recognizes that she is pregnant.
Most women who miscarry later go on to have a healthy pregnancy and birth if no serious risk factors are present. Less than 5% of women have two miscarriages in a row. Since miscarriage is so common, doctors typically don't recommend that special testing be performed after a single miscarriage. For women who have had more than two miscarriages, specialized test can help pinpoint the cause and determine whether a treatable problem is responsible for the condition.
Many women wonder about the right time to try to conceive again after miscarriage. From a purely physical point of view, the body heals rapidly from a miscarriage, and menstrual periods usually return within 4 to 6 weeks, meaning that it is possible for many women to become pregnant right away if they choose. The World Health Organization has recommended that women wait six months after a miscarriage before trying to conceive again, but new research data call this recommendation into question. For example, a 2010 study showed that women who conceived within the first six months after a miscarriage had a lower incidence of miscarriage and pregnancy problems than women who waited longer.
Women who have had multiple miscarriages should discuss their plans for conception with their doctor. Testing to determine the cause of repeat miscarriages may be recommended before attempting another pregnancy. Testing can include genetic testing of the parents to determine whether chromosomal abnormalities are present or imaging tests to look for problems with the uterus.
In addition to the physical concerns, women experience miscarriage differently in terms of their emotions and grief. Some women may want to try to conceive again right away, while others may want to take longer for the grieving process. The decision is highly individual, and women should decide for themselves if the time is right to try to conceive again. Support groups and counseling can be of value in processing the myriad emotions and grief surrounding a miscarriage and the process of trying again.
Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology
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