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

It may come earlier or later than expected

stirrups in gynecology office with woman in background
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 A dilation and curettage, or D&C, is a surgical procedure performed by an OB-GYN in a doctor's office or an operating room, in which the physician opens (called dilation) the cervix to gain access to the uterus.

Once the uterus is accessed, a doctor uses a curette or a suction device to clear the uterus of any retained products of conception after a miscarriage or to diagnose and treat uterine problems, like abnormal bleeding.

With that, you may wonder what to expect after undergoing a D&C, including when you can expect to get your period. 

Your Period After a D&C

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), after a D&C, a woman's uterus will build up a new tissue lining. Then, her next menstrual cycle may be early or late. While this may seem like a vague statement, the fact is that it's simply too hard to predict when any individual woman will get her period.

On the other hand, the American Pregnancy Association reports that a period will return around two weeks to six weeks after a D&C—again, a variable timeline, suggesting that it will be unique for each woman.

To explain the variability, it's easiest to think about a woman's changeable hormone levels. For example, in the case of a miscarriage, hormone levels return to normal more quickly after an early miscarriage than they do after a later miscarriage.

So how far along a woman is when she miscarries may affect how soon she gets her period after a D&C. Of course, there are likely other factors involved that make predicting your period after a D&C, not an exact science. 

This all being said, if it's been more than eight weeks since your D&C and you haven't yet had a period, be sure tell your physician.

Most likely, there isn't a serious problem, but a small number of women will develop intrauterine adhesions or scarring following a D&C—with the highest risk being in women who have had more than one D&C.

What Else to Expect After a D&C

Most women are able to go home within a few hours of the D&C and can resume normal activities within a day or two. You can expect some mild cramping and/or light bleeding.

In terms of aftercare, it's important to not place anything into your vagina (so no tampons, douching, or engaging in sexual intercourse) until your doctor says it's OK—this is to prevent infection. Be sure to ask your doctor about the appropriate timeline, like when you can expect to have sex.

The good news is that when performed by a knowledgeable and experienced clinician, a D&C usually poses limited risks to a woman. However, it's important to be aware of the potential complications, even though they are rare: 

  • bleeding
  • perforation of the uterus (when a small hole occurs in the uterus from the instrument)
  • infection
  • problems with anesthesia

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

In addition, sometimes after a D&C, adhesions, or areas of scar tissue may form in the uterus (as mentioned above), and it can prevent a woman from having a normal period, cause pain, or cause infertility—this is called Asherman's syndrome. This syndrome is rare, though, and it can often be treated with surgery.

A Word From Verywell

A slow-to-return menstrual period can be frustrating, especially if you had a D&C for a miscarriage, and you're hoping to begin trying again for a new pregnancy. Be reassured that your choice of miscarriage management (a D&C versus medical or expectant management) has not been found to affect your future fertility.

 

Sources:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (February 2016). Dilation and Curettage (D&C).

American Pregnancy Association. (2017). D&C Procedure After A Miscarriage.

Smith LF, Ewings PD. Quinlan C. Incidence of Pregnancy After Expectant, Medical, or Surgical Management of Spontaneous First Trimester Miscarriage: Long-term Follow-up of Miscarriage Treatment (MIST) Randomized Controlled Trial. BMJ. 2009 Oct 8;339:b3827.

Stovall DW. (March 2017). Dilation and curettage. In: UpToDate, Mann WJ (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA.

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