Other FAQs About Pregnancy Loss (Before 20 Weeks of Pregnancy)

Basic information for topics, such as "What is it?" and "How many people are affected?" is available in the About Pregnancy Loss section. Answers to other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) specific to pregnancy loss are in this section.

Women should typically wait to have at least one normal menstrual cycle after a pregnancy loss before trying to conceive again. Women may also want to consult with their care provider about possible causes for miscarriage, in addition to making sure they are physically and emotionally ready to become pregnant again.1

In the past, providers sometimes recommended waiting 3 months or more after a pregnancy loss to try for another pregnancy. But recent NICHD research suggests that trying to conceive shortly after a pregnancy loss may actually increase the chances of pregnancy. The study found that among a group of women who tried to conceive after a pregnancy loss, those who tried within 3 months of the loss were more likely to become pregnant and to have a live birth. They also did not have any increased risk of pregnancy complications.2

RPL, also called repeated miscarriage or recurrent miscarriage, occurs when a woman has two or more pregnancy losses in a row. Most women who have one pregnancy loss do not go on to have RPL.3

Although most pregnancy losses are caused by random genetic or chromosomal problems that aren't likely to happen again, RPL can sometimes have an underlying cause.1,3 RPL may result from issues with the parents' genes; structural problems, such as scarring or fibroids in the uterus; or certain medical conditions in the mother. Some of these problems can be treated, which might improve the chance of another pregnancy and carrying the pregnancy to delivery.1,3

However, in many women with RPL, health care providers can't find an underlying cause.1

More than one-half of women with RPL go on to have healthy pregnancies and give birth without any special treatment, depending on certain other factors, such as age.1,3

Pregnancy loss is most often a onetime occurrence. However, losing one pregnancy does increase the risk of losing another pregnancy in the future. See the What is recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL)? question for more information.

"Spotting" is the term used to describe light bleeding from the vagina.

Many pregnant women have spotting and mild cramping during early pregnancy, but it does not always indicate pregnancy loss or another problem.4

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 20% of pregnant women experience light bleeding in the first trimester.5 In many cases, spotting at this stage of pregnancy does not indicate a problem.

Research also shows that spotting may occur during the second and third trimesters. It can result from factors such as infection, or it could be a signal of labor.

Heavy vaginal bleeding at any point in pregnancy can mean there is a problem.4 Women who experience this type of bleeding should contact their health care provider immediately.

Likewise, pregnant women who have any of the symptoms of pregnancy loss—vaginal bleeding more than spotting, abdominal cramps, low back pain—should also contact their health care providers immediately.


  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2016). Frequently asked questions FAQ100: Pregnancy. Repeated miscarriage. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/repeated-miscarriages 
  2. NICHD. (2016). Trying to conceive soon after a pregnancy loss may increase chances of live birth. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/Pages/011116-conception-pregnancy-loss.aspx
  3. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). Evaluation and treatment of recurrent pregnancy loss: A committee opinion. Fertility and Sterility, 98(5), 1103–1111. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://www.asrm.org/practice-guidance/practice-committee-documents/evaluation-and-treatment-of-recurrent-pregnancy-loss-a-committee-opinion-2012/ 
  4. ACOG. (2015). Early pregnancy loss. Practice Bulletin No. 150. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 125, 1258–1267. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Practice-Bulletins/Committee-on-Practice-Bulletins-Gynecology/Early-Pregnancy-Loss 
  5. ACOG.(2016). Frequently asked questions FAQ038: Bleeding during pregnancy. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Bleeding-During-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false 
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