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Pregnancy loss

  • Many women have a miscarriage or other kinds of pregnancy loss.
  • Give yourself time to grieve and heal.
  • Talk to your provider about what happened in your pregnancy.
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Treatment after miscarriage

Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Most women who have an early miscarriage (in the first trimester) don’t need treatment afterwards. Instead, the uterus empties on its own, like if you were having a heavy period.

Some women have severe heavy bleeding after a miscarriage. Or they may have tissue left in the uterus after the miscarriage. In these cases, treatment is needed.

What treatment is recommended after a miscarriage?

Your health care provider may recommend:

  1. Dilation and curettage. This is also called D&C. This is a procedure to remove any remaining tissue from the uterus. Your provider dilates (widens) your cervix and removes the tissue with suction or with an instrument called a curette. The cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.
  2. Medicine. Your provider may recommend medicine that can help your body pass the tissue that’s still in the uterus.

Do you need any tests after a miscarriage?

If you miscarry in your first trimester, you probably don’t need to have any tests. We often don’t know what causes miscarriage that happens in the first trimester, so tests aren’t really very helpful.

If you have more than one miscarriage in the first trimester, or if you have a miscarriage in the second trimester, your provider usually recommends tests to help find out what’s causing them. Tests can include:

  • Chromosome tests. Chromosomes are tiny, thread-like structures in cells that carry genes. Most miscarriages are caused by chromosome problems. You and your partner can have blood tests to check for chromosome problems. Your provider also can test the tissue from the miscarriage for chromosome problems, if tissue is available.
  • Hormone tests. Hormones are chemicals made by the body. Having too many or too few of certain hormones can cause problems that may lead to miscarriage. You may have your blood tested to check for problems with hormones. Or you may have a procedure called endometrial biopsy that removes a small piece of the lining of the uterus (womb) to check for hormones.
  • Blood tests to check your immune system. Your immune system is what helps protect your body from infections. Problems with your immune system also may lead to miscarriage.
  • Looking at the uterus. You may have an ultrasound, which uses sound waves and a computer screen to make a picture of the uterus. Or you may have a hysteroscopy. This is when your provider inserts a special scope through the cervix to see your uterus. Or you may have a hysterosalpingography, which is an X-ray of the uterus.

Talk to your provider about these tests.

Last reviewed July 2012

See also: Miscarriage, Repeat miscarriage, Ectopic and molar pregnancy, Stillbirth

Have questions?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if you’re having a miscarriage?

Signs of a miscarriage can include vaginal spotting or bleeding, abdominal pain or cramping, and fluid or tissue passing from the vagina. Although vaginal bleeding is a common symptom of miscarriage, many women have spotting early in their pregnancy but don’t miscarry. But if you’re pregnant and have bleeding or spotting, contact your health care provider right away.


What is dilation and curettage?

Dilation and curettage (also called D&C) is when a doctor removes tissue from the lining of a woman's uterus. Dilation ("D") is a widening of the cervix to allow medical instruments into the uterus.  Curettage ("C") is the scraping of the walls of the uterus.

Some women have a D&C after a miscarriage to remove tissue. Providers also use D&C to treat heavy bleeding or to help diagnose infection, cancer and other diseases.

After  a D&C, you can return to your regular activities as soon as you feel better, maybe even the same day. You may have vaginal bleeding, pelvic cramps and back pain for a few days after the procedure. Talk to your provider about medicine you can take for pain. Don’t use tampons or have sex for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure.

When can I try to get pregnant again?

For most women, it's best to wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again. This amount of time is best if you miscarry, or if your baby is stillborn, or if your baby dies after birth. Waiting this long gives your body enough time to heal between pregnancies. Also, giving yourself this time may help you feel less worried about your next pregnancy. Depending on your age or other medical reasons, you may not be able to wait this long. Talk to your provider about what's right for you.

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