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How Long Does It Take for Bleeding to Start After a Miscarriage Is Diagnosed?

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Updated April 29, 2008

Question: How Long Does It Take for Bleeding to Start After a Miscarriage Is Diagnosed?

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 (or for the process to complete).

Answer:

The answer to this question may depend on the situation. Obviously, individuals have a lot of variation in this area. One person might start bleeding a few hours after getting the diagnosis and in another, the miscarriage process might not begin for several weeks even if the pregnancy is definitely not viable.

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 vs. missed miscarriage, however. Of the women with incomplete miscarriage (meaning they had symptoms of a miscarriage but still retained tissue in the uterus) 84% had completed the miscarriage in 14 days. In cases of missed miscarriage and blighted ovum, 52% had finished the miscarriage in 14 days after the diagnosis.

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

Source:

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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