What Are the Chances of Having A Second Miscarriage?

Learn About Your Risk of Miscarriage After One Previous Pregnancy Loss

pregnancy ultrasound
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The scariest part of deciding whether to try to get pregnant again after a miscarriage is facing the chances of a second miscarriage. One miscarriage can be a draining enough experience both physically and emotionally, so it's only natural if you hesitate when facing the risk that it could happen again.

The answer to this question depends partly on what kind of pregnancy loss you had.

First Trimester Miscarriage

Doctors believe that about half of all first trimester miscarriages (including chemical pregnancies) are due to chromosomal problems in the developing baby.

In fact, first trimester miscarriages are not all that uncommon, occurring in approximately 10 percent of known pregnancies.

The good news is that according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a miscarriage in the first trimester is usually a one-time event. This means that most women go on to achieve a successful pregnancy, even after an early pregnancy loss.

Still, according to the American Pregnancy Association, having a previous pregnancy loss prior to 20 weeks puts a woman at a slightly higher risk of having another miscarriage—notice the word slightly, so try not to put too much stock into this. 

In addition, advanced maternal age can increase a woman's chance of miscarrying. This means that a woman's chance of miscarrying in the first trimester increases as she gets older, especially as she approaches her late thirties.

Second Trimester Miscarriage or Stillbirth

Research show that women who have had a second-trimester miscarriage or a pregnancy loss even later may have a higher than average risk of having a repeat miscarriage or preterm delivery in the next pregnancy.

This doesn't mean that you should fear pregnancy again. Keep in mind, the odds are higher that your next pregnancy will be just fine. But you should be sure to work closely with your doctor and seek prenatal care based on your doctor's recommended schedule, which may include extra monitoring to watch for complications.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancies (when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes), occur in approximately one to two percent of all pregnancies, according to a 2015 article in American Family Physician—and having a prior ectopic pregnancy is a risk factor for having another one. 

With that, if you have experienced an ectopic pregnancy, you should see a doctor early on to confirm that the new pregnancy is implanted in your uterus. But once you get that confirmation, your miscarriage risk won't be any higher than average.

If You Do Have a Second Miscarriage

Sadly, things are not always fine the next time around, and a small percentage of women will go on to have one or more subsequent miscarriages. If this does happen to you, the chances are still high that you will eventually have a successful pregnancy. That being said, it is sensible to talk to your doctor to find out if you need testing for causes of recurrent miscarriages before you get pregnant again.

Sources:

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (August 2015). Frequently Asked Questions: Early Pregnancy Loss

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (May 2015). Practice Bulletin: Early Pregnancy Loss

American Pregnancy Association. (August 2016). Miscarriage

Barash OH, Buchanan EM, Hillson. Diagnosis and Management of Ectopic Pregnancy. Am Fam Physician. 2014 Jul 1;90(1):34-40.

Edlow, AG. Srinivas SK, Elovitz MA. Second-trimester loss and subsequent pregnancy outcomes: What is the real risk?. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Dec;197(6):581.e1-6.

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