What Are the Chances of Having 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 is an awful enough experience both physically and emotionally, so it's only natural if you hesitate when facing the risk that it could happen again.

Overall, the American Pregnancy Association states that the chance of having one miscarriage is about 15% to 20% for most healthy women, and that the odds of having a second miscarriage are only slightly higher—roughly 25%.

The good news is, however, that having one miscarriage doesn't always mean higher chances of another one. The answer depends partly on what kind of pregnancy loss you had.

First Trimester Miscarriage

Doctors believe that most first trimester miscarriages (including chemical pregnancies) are due to non-recurring chromosomal problems in the developing baby. If your last pregnancy ended in a first trimester miscarriage, your odds of having a normal pregnancy next time around are about the same as they were before you miscarried. Although there will always be some risk of miscarriage—and it rises with your age—you will not automatically be considered at higher risk than anyone else in your age group.

Second Trimester Miscarriage or Stillbirth

Studies 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 getting pregnant 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 on your doctor's recommended schedule, which may include extra monitoring to watch for complications.

Ectopic Pregnancy

If your first pregnancy loss was due to ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes), there is about a 10% to 20% chance of having another one (compared with a roughly 1% chance for someone who has never had an ectopic pregnancy). You should see a doctor early on when you are pregnant again 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 aren't 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, but talk to your doctor to find out if you need testing for causes of recurrent miscarriages before you get pregnant again.

Sources:

Edlow, Andrea G. , Sindhu K. Srinivas, Michal A. Elovitz. "Second-trimester loss and subsequent pregnancy outcomes: What is the real risk?" AJOG Volume 197, Issue 6, Pages 581.e1-581.e6 (December 2007).

Medical FAQ. Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. Accessed Oct 8, 2009. http://www.ectopic.org.uk/medical_information/faq.htm

Problems in pregnancy - Miscarriage. Tommy's. Accessed Oct 8, 2009. http://www.tommys.org/Page.aspx?pid=262

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