Increased fertility after miscarriage – an old wives tale?

In my previous post I talked about the frustration and stress and uncertainty of trying again after a miscarriage. One of the things that makes this worse is the old wives tale that suggests that your body ‘knows how to be pregnant’ and so conception should be quicker second time round. I have heard this from a few different people, and it definitely made it worse when it didn’t magically happen for us the first month of trying again.

I thought I’d do a bit of research into the suggestion and see whether there’s any truth in it. Most of the more reliable websites seem reluctant to say more than ‘some evidence suggests’ and ‘some studies show’ that miscarriage could increase fertility – many don’t even mention the possibility at all, and I am inclined to think that Baby Centre’s conclusion is sensible (http://community.babycenter.com/post/a26307987/helpful_ttc_info):

After a miscarriage it’s difficult to determine what a ‘normal’ conception time frame is. Some women will get their period 28 days after their loss and some won’t get it back for 8 weeks[…]. Once your period returns you fall back under the standard conception time frame (in other words, already experiencing a pregnancy doesn’t give you a ‘headstart’). There is a lot of misinformation about being ‘more fertile’ after a miscarriage. There is simply no scientific evidence to back that up. In fact, after a miscarriage (especially after 8 weeks) your body will need time to recover and get back to normal. Many women do not ovulate for a few months. It’s totally normal to take 6-12 months to conceive after a miscarriage no matter how fertile you are.

OK. So I should probably expect to be in this for the long haul – no more naive expectation that we’re young and healthy and therefore should be pregnant instantly.

BabyMed has a view that supports the ‘more fertile’ idea a little more:

While doctors say there is a brief period right after a miscarriage occurs that a woman experiences increased fertility, this does not mean that her fertility will be increased for long. Experts report that a woman’s normal fertility level should return within four to six weeks after the miscarriage when ovulation starts and her cycle begins to function as normal again.

Anyone who felt very inclined to actively try again within four weeks of a miscarriage gets top marks for effort from me – I was still bleeding for most of that time let alone being an emotional wreck.

In any case, some research has shown that it’s better to wait even as long as sixth months after a miscarriage – in fact that’s still the World Health Organisation’s recommendation, even though more recent research has shown that it’s best just to go for it straight away (http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/08August/Pages/conceiving-baby-after-miscarriage.aspx). Physical symptoms and the benefit of dating the pregnancy accurately aside, I’m not sure anyone would be ready emotionally straight away, but also six months seems like a long time in limbo.

I’m now three and a half months down the line from my miscarriage, and in my second month of trying – last month was very difficult and I found it traumatic and upsetting when I wasn’t pregnant straight away. This month I feel much better about it, and think I will cope much better with negative results this time round. Although I can’t say I won’t be upset, I think I will be more philosophical and accept that we really, truly are back to square one.

In some ways I’m glad I haven’t got pregnant again straight away. It would have been hard to separate the two pregnancies in my mind, and I want next time to be a fresh start. It will be better for our next pregnancy if I can see it with hope and optimism, and see our baby as an individual and not as a replacement for the one we lost. Plus, it will be better for our lost baby too – not just swept under the carpet by a quick ‘rerun’, but remembered and grieved for.

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8 thoughts on “Increased fertility after miscarriage – an old wives tale?

  1. I’m kind of obsessed with post-miscarriage cycles right now. Unfortunately, it’s been just over 6 weeks since my D&C and there are zero signs that Aunt Flo is planning on visiting any time soon.

    Part of me tries to be philosophical: “Hey, girl! You can use this time wisely, to process your grief before starting again.

    Most of me is despairing. I was told that it can take up to 3-4 months. Jeez, I thought having to wait two cycles was a long time, let alone having to add another 2-3 months on top of it.

    I just want to be back in the game; yet I’m terrified of miscarrying again. It’s so hard.

    • It’s ridiculously hard. I’m a huge planner and not being able to plan or predict anything is really hard for me at the best of times – so when you add it a hit of grief and confusion and disappointment and stress, the lack of ability to really do anything positive to improve my situation is crushing.

      I’m sorry it’s taking a while for you to get back to normal – I was told the same thing, that it could take 3-4 months (although mine came back after around 5 weeks, which is a normal cycle length for me anyway). The doctor told me not to come back unless 9 months had passed without me getting pregnant again. :(

  2. For me I have fertility issues and since we lost our daughter I got my cycle naturally. I have never ovulated without fertility meds so I dont think its 100% an old wives tale.

  3. When I had my D&C for a missed miscarriage the Doctor did tell me my chances will increase after this. I got pregnant about 6 or 7 weeks after and carried the baby full term. Another thing I am convinced that helped me was the acupuncture sessions I did right before my cycle when I got pregnant and miscarried. I know it might sound a little ridiculous (I did miscarry), but the fact that I finally got pregnant after four failed previous rounds of treatments makes me believe that acupuncture had something to do with it. I pray that the next round is it for you!

    Also, please check your email and let me know, thanks :-)

  4. Having a miscarriage is one of the most tortuous experiences because you are just waiting and there is nothing that can be done.
    I just experienced a miscarriage and I am just hoping to get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy whenever that may be. I am sorry that you have had to experience this it is a very trying time emotionally and physically.
    I hope you are well!

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