When Does Bleeding Start After a Diagnosed Miscarriage?

Find Out When Miscarriage Symptoms are Likely to Begin and End

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What is a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage is when a woman who is pregnant spontaneously loses her fetus before week 20 of gestation. Most miscarriages occurs in the first trimester, by week 13 of gestation. The risk of miscarriage is somewhere between 10% and 25%, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Most miscarriages happen at random, due to chromosomal abnormalities, and are outside the control of the mother.


What are the Symptoms of Miscarriage?

One of the main symptoms of miscarriage is vaginal bleeding. Other symptoms of miscarriage include the passing of tissue and fluid through the vagina, as well as abdominal aches and cramps. The experience can be painful, both physically and emotionally, for women. 

When Does Vaginal Bleeding Begin and End After a Miscarriage is Diagnosed?

Sometimes doctors can diagnose a miscarriage before the symptoms actually begin. For instance, during early pregnancy, a doctor will give you a blood test that checks your level of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that's produced during pregnancy. If that level is not doubling every two to three days in the first trimester, and is, in fact, dropping, that's, unfortunately, a telltale sign of an impending miscarriage.

Women who choose to wait for a natural miscarriage after being diagnosed with a pregnancy loss often wonder how long it will take for the bleeding to start and end (or for the process to complete).

 The answer to this question may depend on the situation. For instance, in one scenario, a person might start bleeding a few hours after getting the diagnosis and, in another scenario, the miscarriage process might not begin for several weeks even if the pregnancy is definitely not viable. So keep in mind: There is a lot of variation among individuals.


That said, research shows that you're most likely to start and finish bleeding within two weeks of the diagnosis. A study done in 2002 looked at the outcomes of first trimester miscarriages and found that, overall, 70% of women who chose natural miscarriage completed the miscarriage bleeding within 14 days of the diagnosis.

The results were different for incomplete miscarriage versus missed miscarriage, however. Of the women who had incomplete miscarriage (meaning they had symptoms of a miscarriage but still retained tissue in the uterus) 84% had completed the miscarriage in 14 days. But in cases of missed miscarriage and blighted ovum, only 52% had finished the miscarriage in 14 days after the diagnosis. In other words, for women who experience missed miscarriage and blighted ovum, the process is more likely to take longer.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

If you're on the fence about whether to miscarry naturally or to choose a dilation and curettage (D & C) or medical management, remember that you can probably change your mind later if the process takes longer than you would like.


Also, keep in mind that not all miscarriages are diagnosed ahead of time. They can occur early on in gestation before women have a chance to see a doctor or sometimes before women even know that they're pregnant. If you start experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, call your doctor. 


Luise, Ciro, Karen Jermy, Caroline May, Gillian Costello, William P. Collins, and Thomas H. Bourne, "Outcome of expectant management of spontaneous first trimester miscarriage: observational study." BMJ 2002. Accessed 23 Apr 2008.

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