When Will I Get My Period After Having a D&C?

Periods Usually Return Quickly After D&C

stirrups in gynecology office with woman in background
Stock4B/Getty Images

Most women will have their menstrual cycles return somewhere between two and six weeks after a D&C or vacuum aspiration. But the exact length of time for return of period after D&C will vary by the person, of course, and possibly by how far along the pregnancy was at the time of the miscarriage (hormone levels return to normal more quickly after an early miscarriage than they do after a later miscarriage).

If it's been more than eight weeks since your D&C and you haven't yet had a period, tell your physician. Most likely, there isn't a serious problem, but a small number of women will develop intrauterine adhesions or scarring following D&C--with the highest risk being in women who have had more than one D&C. Scarring in the uterus, or Asherman's syndrome, can cause future fertility problems if not treated, so your physician may want to rule out the condition to be on the safe side. Don't be afraid to seek a second opinion if you feel you need to.

A slow-to-return menstrual period can be frustrating, especially if you're hoping to begin trying again for a new pregnancy, but the good news is that most research has shown that future fertility is roughly the same following all three miscarriage management methods--so once your period does return, chances are that you shouldn't be at any higher risk for future problems.

What's a D&C?

Dilation and curettage or D&C is a procedure performed by an OB-GYN in the operating room, wherein the physician opens the cervix using either medications or instruments to gain access to the uterus. D&C is typically performed to clear the uterus of any retained products of conception, like after a miscarriage, and the physician uses a curette to clear the uterus.

The curette can be either a sharpened instrument or use vacuums. D&C can also be performed to treat heavy bleeding.

What Are the Risks of D&C?

When performed by a knowledgeable and experienced clinician, D&C usually poses limited risks to the patient. However, there can be risks associated with D&C including the following:

  • cervical damage
  • perforation of the uterus
  • infection
  • scar tissue

If after a D&C you experience pain, cramping, heavy bleeding that won't stop or foul-smelling discharge, call your OB-GYN immediately. These symptoms could indicate that you are experiencing complication related to D&C, and you need prompt medical attention and treatment.

What Is Asherman's Syndrome?

Sometimes after D&C or other invasive medical procedures or surgeries, adhesions can form. Adhesions are areas of scar tissue where membranes adhere or stick to one another after they've been cut. Asherman's syndrome refers to adhesions in the uterus that can prevent a woman from having a normal period or result in recurrent miscarriage.

The adhesions involved in Asherman's syndrome can also result in pain.

Treatment options exist for Asherman's syndrome. Specifically, adhesions can be removed by means of surgery (lysis). Sometimes these adhesions return, and estrogen can be given to prevent the recurrence of Asherman's syndrome.

Sources:

D&C Procedure After a Miscarriage. American Pregnancy Association. Accessed: Jun 2010.

Patient information: Dilation and curettage (D and C). UpToDate. Accessed: Jun 2010.

Smith, Lindsay FP, Paul D Ewings, Catherine Quinla. "Incidence of pregnancy after expectant, medical, or surgical management of spontaneous first trimester miscarriage: long term follow-up of miscarriage treatment (MIST) randomised controlled trial." BMJ 2009;339:b3827.

Continue Reading