Do I Have to Wait to Conceive After Miscarriage?

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A lot of physicians advise waiting anywhere from one to three months after a miscarriage before attempting to conceive again. Why? Some doctors refer to an increased risk of miscarriage if couples conceive too soon. Others believe that couples need time to grieve the previous loss. And some recommend waiting at least one menstrual cycle, simply to have a normal period to use in dating the next pregnancy.

Yet, short of individual health circumstances, there's no convincing evidence that it's medically necessary for most women to wait any set period of time to conceive after a miscarriage.

What Does the Research Show?

In studies that followed women who became pregnant after a previous first-trimester miscarriage, researchers found no evidence that the time between pregnancies affects the risk of miscarrying again. Women who conceived less than three months after a miscarriage did not have a higher risk of complications compared with women who had more time between pregnancies.

It is possible, however, that the answer is different if your miscarriage happened in the second or third trimester, which is a much more uncommon circumstance. Some studies have found that women who conceived less than six months after childbirth (meaning a preterm or full-term delivery of a baby) have faced a higher risk of complications in the subsequent pregnancy. However, it's not clear that the cause of the increased risk was the short spacing between pregnancies. Thus, it's not certain that waiting is absolutely necessary after a late miscarriage or stillbirth either.

There is no definitive research on the topic if how long to wait before trying to conceive again that offers a universal answer that applies to everyone.

What Other Factors Should I Consider?

Most early miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities that are outside your control. But if your miscarriage happened because of a medical condition (such as infection, a thyroid problem, uncontrolled diabetes, an immunologic disorder, a uterine abnormality, or cervical insufficiency) or due to a modifiable risk factor (such as smoking cigarettes, using drugs, drinking alcohol, or consuming large amounts of caffeine), then your doctor may advise you to treat the underlying problem, if possible, before attempting to get pregnant again.

Also, although not medically necessary, you may want to let your level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) drop to zero or an undetectable level, or until you have a normal menstrual cycle, before you attempt to conceive again. Otherwise, there's a chance that you may get a "false positive" result from a pregnancy test—in other words, a urine-based or blood-based test may tell you that you're expecting when you're not. And that experience can be an emotional roller coaster. 

All in all, it's best to discuss any concerns that you have with your doctor if you don't want to wait three months. Explain your preferences, ask your doctor about the reasoning behind the recommendation that you should wait, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

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