Can a miscarriage mess up your fertility?
When a miscarriage occurs, a woman’s body doesn’t revert back to “normal” automatically. Hormonal imbalances can affect fertility and even cause more miscarriages in the future.
Pregnancy hormones are powerful, and after a miscarriage they need to reset themselves, which is why most doctors recommend waiting until your next full period before trying to conceive again. But sometimes a woman’s body doesn’t completely even out, even after blood tests say all is well.
Getting hormones back to normal after miscarriage
After a miscarriage, it can take four to 12 weeks for a woman’s hormones to get back to normal, longer if the miscarriage occurred later in the pregnancy, according to Dr. Sara Gottfried, board-certified gynecologist and author of The Hormone Cure.
“However, that doesn’t look at the hormones of grief, such as the stress hormone cortisol, which can block the hormones you need to be pregnant again,” Gottfried adds. Most women experience miscarriage as a major source of grief. “Most doctors don’t understand how important balanced stress hormones are, but high cortisol can cause problems with fertility and miscarriage too.”
Managing the pain and sadness you feel because of a miscarriage — whether through one-on-one counseling or a support group — can go a long way toward helping you heal and prepare your mind and body for another pregnancy in the future.
Experiencing grief may also cause women to go off of their otherwise healthy routines, but diet and lifestyle can go a long way to helping hormonal balance, says Marcelle Pick, OB-GYN nurse practitioner and author of Is It Me or My Hormones? She adds that poor nutrition could also be responsible for hormones not readjusting properly or hormonal imbalances.
Trying to conceive after miscarriage
While statistics say that a woman who miscarries once is likely to conceive again and carry a healthy pregnancy to term, this isn’t the case for all women. “Too much stress, or extended grief, can impact cortisol, progesterone and thyroid, and they are all crucial to your ability to conceive again,” explains Gottfried. “You want all three hormones in balance so they are supporting you, not working against you.”
There are other factors that can affect hormones from readjusting properly, which affects conception. “Age can make progesterone not rise like it needs to in order to support your pregnancy,” says Gottfried. “If you drink too much caffeine or alcohol, it can get estrogen out of balance. You need a great tango between estrogen and progesterone to carry a healthy pregnancy.”
Were hormones the culprit from the beginning?
Often, women discover that a hormonal imbalance was what caused their miscarriage in the first place, which means it could also be responsible for the loss of future pregnancies unless the imbalance is discovered and treated. “Low progesterone is a common reason for miscarriage, as is low thyroid,” Gottfried explains, advising women to make sure that their doctor checks these levels.
Pick reminds women that a miscarriage is also nature’s way of dealing with genetic abnormalities that occur in a pregnancy, which means hormones may not be the cause of the miscarriage at all. Ultimately, it’s up to you to be proactive about your fertility health and advocate for the tests and treatment you believe you may need.