Complications After a Miscarriage

Some Women Experience Physical or Emotional Challenges After a Pregnancy Loss

Sometimes, women have complications such as excessive bleeding, infection or depression after a miscarriage. Although most first-trimester miscarriages are relatively uncomplicated - at least from a health perspective - you may want to know what to look out for.

Make sure to talk to your doctor if you suspect you have any of these problems so you can recover and go on to get pregnant again without further concerns.

Incomplete Miscarriage

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An incomplete miscarriage means that you still have some tissue retained in your uterus from the pregnancy. The biggest sign of this is bleeding or cramping longer than expected. Your doctor will tell you how soon the bleeding should stop. If you're still experiencing symptoms roughly two weeks after the miscarriage, it could be an incomplete pregnancy, and you should talk to your doctor. Sometimes this condition will resolve on its own, but other times you might need a D&C to clear all of the products of conception from your womb.

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Excessive Bleeding

Your doctor will advise you that bleeding is normal as a miscarriage progresses. Too much bleeding, however, could be dangerous for you. A small percentage of women have hemorrhaging as a complication of miscarriage. The general rule is that you should seek medical attention immediately if you're soaking through a menstrual pad in under an hour. 

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Infection After Miscarriage

About 3 percent of women will acquire an infection related to a miscarriage. This may be caused by retained products of conception in the uterus. A post-miscarriage infection can be dangerous but is generally easily treated with antibiotics. Be sure to contact your doctor if you think you have symptoms of an infection after miscarriage, such as a high fever or bleeding and cramping for longer than two weeks. 

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Asherman Syndrome

Asherman syndrome is a rare complication of a D&C. (It can happen for other reasons as well, such as infection.) In this condition, scar tissue, called adhesions, forms in the uterus. These adhesions can cause fertility problems and further miscarriages. The most common symptom is absent, light or infrequent periods. Surgery can be used to remove the adhesions so you can try to get pregnant again.

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Recurrent Miscarriages

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 1 percent of women will have more than one miscarriage. This is known as recurrent miscarriage or repeated miscarriage. If you have two or three consecutive miscarriages, talk to a doctor about testing for possible causes, such as Asherman Syndrome, the immune disorder antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) or a genetic problem called balanced translocation. Unfortunately, at least 50 percent of the time, no cause can be found for recurrent miscarriage. 

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According to the March of Dimes, if you experience the following symptoms for a long time after your miscarriage, or if you feel them very strongly and they're interfering with your life, you could be depressed: 

  • having little interest in your usual activities or hobbies
  • feeling tired all the time
  • gaining or losing weight
  • having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • thinking about suicide or death

Grief is a normal reaction to miscarriage and pregnancy loss. But if you start to show signs of clinical depression, it could be helpful to talk to a counselor or other mental health professional

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Anxiety Disorders

Some research suggests that anxiety and stress disorders are even more common than clinical depression after miscarriage, and they can become your new normal if you don't deal with them. It may even be possible to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a pregnancy loss. Again, talking to a mental health professional and learning strategies for coping with your anxiety can help you feel more like yourself again after a miscarriage.

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