How Long Does Bleeding Last After a Miscarriage?

Learn what's common after a naturally or surgically managed miscarriage.

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Miscarriage (which is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy prior to 20 weeks gestation) is fairly common, occurring in 10 to 25 percent of pregnancies, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

A miscarriage is most likely to occur during the first trimester (the first 12 weeks of gestation). In fact, some miscarriages occur so early that they happen before the mother even realizes that she is pregnant.

Miscarriages can be devastating regardless of the cause or when they occur in the pregnancy. 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.

In a miscarriage, a woman can expect bleeding to be heavier than her typical menses. But how long the bleeding lasts is not the same for every woman and depends partially on how the miscarriage is managed.

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 two maxi pads per hour for two consecutive hours, call your doctor immediately. You may be hemorrhaging and might need a procedure called a D&C 

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. Many women experience spotting or light bleeding. 

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, worrisome symptoms or signs after a D&C that indicate you should contact your doctor right away include:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

In addition, be aware that during the first trimester, a vacuum aspiration may be done to manage a miscarriage. This procedure involves the doctor using a suction to remove tissue, as opposed to a sharp curette.

Bleeding After Misoprostol

Some women opt to take misoprostol, a medication that can help expel tissue through the vagina after a first-trimester pregnancy loss. Misoprostol reduces a woman's need for a D&C.

Like natural management, a woman can expect heavier bleeding than her typical menses with misoprostol. But with misoprostol, her duration of time needed to expel the tissue is usually shorter.

Regardless, a woman should call her doctor right away if soaking through two maxi per hour for two consecutive hours—surgery (D&C) may be needed if the tissue is not completely removed.

A Word From Verywell

In addition to the physical symptoms of a miscarriage like vaginal bleeding, it's common to experience emotional distress. What complicates matters is that others often don’t view it as a loss and tell you “it was for the best” or that you can try again.

Instead of keeping your thoughts and feelings bottled up, ask your doctor if there is a support group in your town or a therapist you can see. Privately talking to other women who have been through the same experience or seeking help from a healthcare professional who has experience working with women who have had a miscarriage may help you cope with the heartbreaking loss and feel less alone.

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 College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (February 2016). Dilation and Crrettage. 

American Pregnancy Association (August 2016). Miscarriage: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention 

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