A miscarriage can be a difficult process physically and emotionally. In fact, in an original survey Marie Claire conducted in partnership with SurveyMonkey, women who had been through at least one miscarriage were asked what the hardest part of the experience was: the emotional toll or the physical; 10 times as many women said emotional. Once you feel ready to try again, here's how you know your body is ready, too.
You can begin trying to conceive again—either naturally or with a new IVF cycle—following the first normal menses (a.k.a. period) after the miscarriage, says Aaron K. Styer, M.D., reproductive endocrinologist and co-medical director of CCRM Boston, though some doctors may recommend two menses or more. (Check with yours to be sure.) Unfortunately, the onset of the first period after a miscarriage can be variable and unpredictable, happening anywhere from four to eight weeks after the miscarriage is completed. In the first trimester, a miscarriage typically takes several days to complete and for all fetal tissue to be expelled from the body. It may take up to two weeks for the cervix to close again after a miscarriage; having sex while your cervix is still dilated can cause an infection, which is why doctors recommend waiting to be intimate.
If you’ve had a miscarriage, Dr. Styer suggests asking your fertility doctor or ob-gyn the following questions:
- Do we know what caused my miscarriage?
- What is my risk for miscarriage in a future pregnancy?
- Do my partner or I need to do any additional testing to determine if there is a cause for my miscarriage?
- Are there any fertility treatments, such as preimplantation genetic screening or diagnosis, that may reduce my risk of a future miscarriage?
Dr. Styer also notes that the majority—more than 61 percent, according to one study—of miscarriages occur when the embryo has an abnormal number of chromosomes. In patients undergoing IVF, a form of preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A or PGS) called comprehensive chromosomal screening (CCS) can reduce the risk of miscarriages by looking at all pairs of chromosomes for any abnormal pairings. In this treatment, a small number of cells are taken from the outside of an embryo and tested to determine if it has the correct number of chromosomes before being transferred into the uterus.
Since miscarriage is so common—happening in anywhere from 10–20 percent of all pregnancies—one miscarriage alone doesn’t immediately indicate a fertility issue. In fact, only 1 to 2 percent of women will have two or more miscarriages. If you have two miscarriages in your attempt to get pregnant, go ahead and schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist to see if there might be a diagnosable reason—and treatment.
Still have questions about getting pregnant? Check out our fertility FAQ here.
Editors’ note: We use the terms “woman” and “female” in this article to refer to people with internal reproductive organs; however we understand that not everyone with internal reproductive organs identifies as a woman or a female. We use the terms “man” and “male” to refer to people with external reproductive organs; however we understand that not everyone with external reproductive organs identifies as a man or a male.