How Fertile Is One After a Miscarriage?

Reviewed on 4/4/2022
Calendar marked with ovulation date
Researchers found that pregnancies conceived within 6 months of a miscarriage were more likely to be successful than those who waited before trying again.

A miscarriage, also called a spontaneous abortion, refers to a pregnancy loss before the 20th week of gestation or the expulsion an embryo or fetus weighing 500 g or less. Miscarriage at this stage occurs in about 31% of pregnancies. 

Fertility may actually improve following a miscarriage. Some research found that fertility may be slightly enhanced for a couple of months after a miscarriage.

Researchers found that pregnancies conceived within 6 months of a miscarriage were more likely to be successful than those who waited before trying again. 

  • After a miscarriage, it is commonly recommended to wait to attempt to conceive again until a person is physically and emotionally ready.
  • Waiting can ensure a woman’s body is ready to support a pregnancy and to reduce the chance of a repeat miscarriage.
  • It is usually considered medically safe to conceive after two or three normal menstrual periods if tests or treatments for the cause of the miscarriage are not performed.
  • However, some doctors may recommend couples wait six months to a year before attempting another pregnancy to come to terms with the loss. 

While miscarriage does not impact fertility, three or more miscarriages may be a sign there is an underlying condition that is affecting fertility, such as: 

  • Blood clotting problems (antiphospholipid syndrome, also known as Hughes syndrome)
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Cervical weakness

Conditions associated with recurrent miscarriage (though they may not cause it) include:

Recurrent miscarriages should be evaluated by a fertility specialist.

What Are Symptoms of Miscarriage?

Some women may have no symptoms of miscarriage and it is discovered on a routine ultrasound in early pregnancy.

When symptoms of miscarriage occur, they may include:

If you are pregnant and have any signs of a miscarriage, see your doctor right away. 

What Causes Miscarriage?

Causes of miscarriage include:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities
    • Present in up to 70% of pregnancy losses before 20 weeks
  • Maternal anatomical abnormalities
  • Trauma
    • Penetrating injuries
    • Intimate partner violence
    • Gunshot wounds

Risk factors for miscarriage include:

  • Increasing maternal age, over 35 years
  • Medical conditions
  • Medication and/or substance use
  • Environmental exposures
    • Lead or arsenic exposure
    • Ionizing radiation
    • Air pollution
  • Race and ethnicity
    • Women of color have an increased risk compared to white women

How Is Miscarriage Diagnosed?

Once a pregnancy has been diagnosed, a miscarriage may be diagnosed by a doctor with:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood tests
  • Tests on tissue you may have passed to confirm a miscarriage
  • Chromosomal tests if you have had previous miscarriages to determine if your chromosomes or your partner’s chromosomes play a role

What Is the Treatment for Miscarriage?

If an ultrasound confirms a miscarriage and determines the embryo is no longer viable or has not fully formed, there are several treatment options:

  • Expectant management
    • Let the miscarriage progress naturally and allow the embryo to pass on its own
    • This may take up to 4 weeks and can be difficult emotionally
    • If the embryo does not pass on its own within 4 weeks, medical or surgical intervention is recommended because of the risk of infections, potential for loss of the uterus, or threat to the mother’s life
  • Medical treatment
    • Medications given to help the body expel the pregnancy tissue
    • For most women, these medications work within 24 hours
  • Surgical treatment
    • Suction dilation and curettage (D&C) 
    • If miscarriage occurs with heavy bleeding or signs of infection, surgical treatment is recommended
Reviewed on 4/4/2022
Image Source: iStock Images