The experience of a miscarriage, also known as early pregnancy loss, can be emotionally devastating. About 10% to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, the loss of a pregnancy in the womb before 20 weeks of gestation. 8 out of 10 miscarriages occur in the first trimester, and between 1 and 5 out of every 100 miscarriages happen in the second trimester. Miscarriage is very common, and most people go on to have a healthy pregnancy in the future.
For many people, recovering from a miscarriage can include unexpected and challenging experiences. Coping with the loss takes a great deal of time and emotional energy. The grieving process can take months, including symptoms of depression and anxiety, but what about the physical experience? One of these physical aspects is the return of your menstrual cycle after a miscarriage.
After a miscarriage, it is common to experience physical and emotional symptoms as the body adjusts to hormonal shifts and loss of the pregnancy. These changes can affect the menstrual cycle in a number of ways. The first period after a miscarriage can be unusually heavy and cause more discomfort than typical menstruation, or the flow could be light along with severe emotional distress.
“The first [period following] miscarriage may be a bit different, but generally all periods can vary in timing, flow, length, colour, or cramps from time to time depending on how well you are, or other circumstances like illness, travel, medication, or surgery,” says Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, University of Toronto assistant professor and OB-GYN at Unity Health Toronto.
For some, the post-miscarriage period may be heavier or longer than usual, while it may be shorter or lighter for others. Some people may also experience more cramping or discomfort during this time. It's important to remember that every experience is unique, and there is no "typical" pattern for the post-miscarriage menstrual cycle. “Your first period may also bring on different emotions. It can be common to be sad to see a period if you have had trouble conceiving,” Dr. Kirkham explains. “There is not a hard and fast rule as to what to expect from your first period after a loss.”
If you are concerned about changes in your menstrual cycle or irregular periods after a miscarriage, talk to your healthcare provider for guidance and support. They can help you understand what to expect and provide you with any necessary medical care.
After miscarriage, the length of time for the first period to arrive can vary. “Your miscarriage may have been diagnosed when you went for a routine ultrasound or after you had cramps and bleeding,” states Dr. Kirkham. “Whether you were treated by watching and waiting, medication to induce passage or surgery, you can generally expect your first period six weeks later.”
The length of the first period after miscarriage can also vary, but it is typically similar to a normal period. You may experience heavier bleeding or cramping, but this shouldn’t be a cause for concern unless it’s accompanied by other symptoms like fever or severe pain.
Following a miscarriage, it's normal for your period to change, at least for a little while. You might experience heavier flow, more cramps, or a longer duration of bleeding. This is because a miscarriage can cause hormonal fluctuations that affect your menstrual cycle.
You may also experience a delayed or early period after miscarriage. It can be confusing, but you must remember that everyone's body is different, and there is no "normal" when it comes to how your period will be affected.
“Your period indicates that you ovulated, or released an egg from your ovaries, two weeks before and that you are not pregnant if it is your usual flow,” Dr. Kirkham points out. “Sometimes, people can have a couple of days of light spotting, which may indicate implantation bleeding from a new pregnancy.” If you're concerned about your menstrual cycle after miscarriage, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.
Dr. Kirkham recommends waiting until you’ve had a normal period to start trying again, as do many healthcare professionals. “This does help you time and date your pregnancy if you know when the first day of your most recent period is. However, pregnancies can also be dated by ultrasound,” says Dr. Kirkham. Don't forget to take care of your mental health and give yourself time to grieve. Make sure you have support systems in place to assist you during this time. She adds, “If you feel ready physically and emotionally to try again, you may do so.”
Several factors come into play, such as the time it takes for your body to recover and the point in the pregnancy where you miscarried. There is no “normal” timeframe, but the range can be anywhere from four to eight weeks. Per Dr. Kirkham, the first period typically happens about six weeks after a miscarriage.
It varies from person to person. Some may experience more pain and discomfort during their first period following a miscarriage, while others may not see any significant changes.
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