Pregnancy after miscarriage: What you need to know

Pregnancy after miscarriage can be stressful and confusing. When is the best time to get pregnant? What are the odds of miscarrying again? Get the facts about pregnancy after miscarriage. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Thinking about pregnancy after miscarriage? You might be feeling anxious or confused about what caused your miscarriage and when to conceive again. Here's help understanding pregnancy after miscarriage, and the steps you can take to promote a healthy pregnancy.

What causes miscarriage?

Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. Most miscarriages occur because the fetus isn't developing normally. Problems with the baby's chromosomes or genes are typically the result of errors that occur by chance as the embryo divides and grows — not problems inherited from the parents. Sometimes a woman's health condition, such as uncontrolled diabetes or problems with the uterus or cervix, also might lead to miscarriage. Often, however, the cause of miscarriage isn't known.

About 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. The actual number is probably higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn't even know yet that she's pregnant.

What are the odds of another miscarriage?

Miscarriage is usually a one-time occurrence. Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy after miscarriage. Less than 5 percent of women have two consecutive miscarriages, and only 1 percent have three or more consecutive miscarriages.

Are special tests recommended before attempting pregnancy after miscarriage?

If you experience more than two miscarriages, consider testing to identify any underlying causes before attempting to get pregnant again. For example:

  • Blood tests. A sample of your blood is evaluated to help detect problems with hormones or your immune system.
  • Chromosomal tests. You and your partner might both have your blood tested to determine if your chromosomes are a factor. Tissue from the miscarriage — if it's available — also might be tested.

Procedures can also be done to detect uterine problems. For example:

  • Ultrasound. This imaging method uses high-frequency sound waves to produce precise images of structures within the body. Your health care provider places the ultrasound device (transducer) over your abdomen or places it inside your vagina to obtain images of your uterus.
  • Hysteroscopy. Your health care provider inserts a small, lighted telescope called a hysteroscope through your cervix into your uterus. He or she then expands the uterine cavity by injecting it with saline and examines the walls of your uterus and the openings of your fallopian tubes.
  • Hysterosalpingography. This technique uses a dye to highlight the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes on X-ray images.
  • Sonohysterogram. This ultrasound scan is done after fluid is injected into your uterus though your vagina and cervix. This allows your health care provider to look for problems in the lining of your uterus.

If the cause of your miscarriages can't be identified, don't lose hope. About 60 to 70 percent of women with unexplained repeated miscarriages go on to have healthy pregnancies.

March 14, 2013 See more In-depth