How Long Does Bleeding Last After a Miscarriage?

Learn What's Common After a Natural Miscarriage or D&C

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Miscarriage (the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before week 20 of gestation) is, unfortunately, fairly common. A healthy woman has a 15% to 20% of having a miscarriage, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Most miscarriages are not the result of anything that the mother did during pregnancy—the majority are simply the result of a fetus that's developing abnormally. A miscarriage is most likely to occur during the first trimester (the first 12 weeks of gestation).

Some miscarriages occur so early that they happen before the mother even realizes that she is pregnant.

Still, it can be devastating. The experience is often painful, both physically and emotionally. Beyond cramping and passing tissues (the placenta and the gestational sac) through the vagina, one of the most common symptoms is vaginal bleeding. If you're going through a miscarriage, you may wonder: How long does the bleeding tend to last?

Bleeding After a Natural Miscarriage

The duration of bleeding after a miscarriage is different for every woman, but the bleeding should stop within about two weeks, in most cases. A longer bleeding time could be a sign of an incomplete miscarriage, meaning that tissue from the pregnancy is still present in the uterus. This poses a risk of infection, so be sure to report an unusually long bleeding time to your doctor in order to rule out complications.

The bleeding that you experience may be very heavy at first with large clots, and it's important to roughly measure how much you're bleeding.

If the blood is soaking through a menstrual pad in less than an hour, call your doctor immediately, because you may be hemorrhaging and might need a procedure called a D&C (more on that below). Also, if the bleeding is heavier than a regular menstrual period for more than two or three days, call your doctor.

Bleeding After a D&C

Having something called a D&C (dilation and curettage)—a surgical operation during which a physician dilates your cervix and empties your uterus by gently scraping the lining of your uterus—could shorten the duration of your vaginal bleeding, and some women may not even bleed at all following a D&C. During the first trimester, the procedure tends to be called a D&A—dilation and aspiration—because the doctor uses a tool called a suction curette, as opposed to a sharp curette.

Risk Factors for Miscarriage

Certain factors do put women at higher risk for miscarriage, and those include: being older than 35, having an invasive prenatal test (such as a chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis), having a previous miscarriage, being overweight or underweight, having diabetes, being a smoker, drinking a lot of alcohol or taking many illicit drugs, and having uterine abnormalities or cervical tissues that are weak.

Finding Support

After a miscarriage, it's common to feel depressed, angry, and/or confused.

What complicates matters is that many women don't feel comfortable talking about their miscarriages in public. Instead of keeping your thoughts and feelings bottled up, ask your doctor if there is a support group in your town. Privately talking to other women who have been through the same experience may help you cope with the heartbreaking loss and feel less alone. In addition, you can request a free bereavement kit from March of Dimes. 

Sources:

Johnson, Nick, Mike Priestnall, Thelma Marsay, Paul Ballard, and Joan Watters. "A randomised trial evaluating pain and bleeding after a first trimester miscarriage treated surgically or medically." European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 1997. Accessed 2 Jan 2008.

Trinder, J., P. Brocklehurst, R. Porter, M. Read, S. Vyas, and L. Smith. "Management of miscarriage: expectant, medical, or surgical? Results of randomised controlled trial (miscarriage treatment (MIST) trial)." 27 May 2006 BMJ. Accessed 2 Jan 2008.

"Miscarriage: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention ." American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2015).

"Miscarriage Risk Factors." Mayo Clinic (2013).

"D&C Procedure After a Miscarriage." American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2015).

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