Q: How soon can I resume sexual intercourse after a miscarriage and D and C? Can I get pregnant right away?
A: All of the tissue that develops in an early pregnancy may not be passed from the uterus after a miscarriage. A procedure known as a D and C may be done to remove the rest of the uterine contents. D and C is short for 'dilation and curettage.' In this procedure, the opening of the womb, called the cervix, is slowly stretched (dilated) so that an instrument (a curette) can be inserted and used to gently scrape the walls of the uterus to remove the tissue.
Doctors recommend "pelvic rest" to allow the cervix to close. That way, infection is less likely to travel up into the uterus. In addition to avoiding sexual intercourse, avoid tampons and douching.
After a D and C, you may experience mild cramping and staining. You can take anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen if necessary.
Menstrual cycles usually resume quickly after miscarriage, and most women will have a period within 6 weeks. If you're not ready to conceive, you can and should re-start contraception immediately after a D and C.
For women who want to get pregnant soon after miscarriage, experts traditionally recommended that they wait 2 or 3 cycles. There is no evidence that getting pregnant right away results in additional risk. But some women benefit from taking a little time to grieve their loss before trying to conceive again.
(Joan Marie Bengtson, M.D., is assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproduction at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass.)
For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)
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