When an athlete returns after a serious injury, sports broadcasters share emotional stories about their resilience and determination. Fans celebrate the return of an athlete who represents the deeply human experience of overcoming adversity. 

Sure, an athletic comeback story is something to be celebrated, but you know who deserves even more recognition? Women who embark on the journey to conceive again after experiencing pregnancy loss. 

It takes tremendous courage to try again after a loss — and “getting back in the game” isn’t always as simple as it sounds. In this guide, we help you navigate the emotional and physical hurdles of trying to conceive (TTC) after loss. Consider this your pep talk as you face the challenges of trying again.

How to know if you’re physically ready

If you’ve gone through a miscarriage (pregnancy loss before 20 weeks) or stillbirth (pregnancy loss after 20 weeks), I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you’re taking the time to grieve and process the magnitude of the situation.

There’s no timeline for grief, and you may find that emotional recovery takes longer than the physical recovery of losing a pregnancy. Let’s talk about the physical changes that occur after a loss and how to know when you’re physically ready to try again. 

  • Clearing pregnancy hormones — After a loss, the pregnancy hormone hCG starts to decline. Once the levels are too low to be detected on a home pregnancy test, your hormones will return to a pre-pregnancy state and you’ll resume a menstrual cycle. This can take several weeks, depending on how high your hCG levels reached during pregnancy.

  • Return of a regular menstrual cycle — As your hormones return to baseline, your menstrual cycle typically resumes. You can confirm that you’re ovulating again by using at-home test kits or checking for physical signs of ovulation

Experts recommend abstaining from sex for up to two weeks after a miscarriage to allow your body to heal. You may want to wait until you’ve had a full menstrual cycle to track timing, but it’s possible to get pregnant as soon as two weeks after a miscarriage. 

It can take months for your hormones to regulate after a loss. The timing of the return of menstruation varies by person and the circumstances around your pregnancy. Your doctor can help you determine your physical readiness to try again based on your situation. 

How to know if you’re emotionally ready

After a loss, you may feel a wide range of emotions — from anger and sadness over the loss of your baby to jealousy toward others who’ve had successful pregnancies. Just when you’ve processed these emotions, many of them resurface when you decide to try again. 

It’s common to experience anxiety, fear, or hopelessness about another pregnancy. You might even grapple with guilt over trying again, fearing that it means moving on from your lost baby. 

You don’t have to face this journey by yourself. Here are some tips to help you emotionally prepare as you determine your readiness to resume trying to conceive.

  • Talk to professionals. A licensed mental health professional can help you work through fears and prepare for the mental stress of trying again. Therapy allows you to process grief and find ways to cope with the uncertainty of the future.

  • Cut out the noise. If you’re feeling the pressure to get back into the game because of your age or societal expectations, it may be helpful to minimize external influences. Gently remind your friends and family that you’re looking for support, not advice. You might also consider taking a break from social media to reduce unnecessary triggers.

  • Trust your gut. Determining when you’re ready to try again is a decision only you and your partner can make. For many women, it’s a gut feeling. Pay attention to your body — if you get weepy or overwhelmed at the thought of trying again, it may mean you need more time. Taking the time you need to heal after a loss is perfectly okay.

When to see a fertility specialist

After pregnancy loss, your OB/GYN may refer you to a fertility specialist called a reproductive endocrinologist. They’re board-certified doctors who can help determine the underlying causes of infertility and which treatments may potentially prevent future losses. You might consider seeing a specialist if: 

  • You’re over 35

  • You have a history of PCOS, endometriosis, or another reproductive disorder

  • You’ve had two or more losses

  • You’re thinking about doing IVF or IUI to improve your chances of a live birth

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Handling pregnancy after loss

The reality is, you won’t know the outcome of your next pregnancy until you try again, which can be extremely daunting. Even after incessantly checking your risk with a loss prediction calculator, there’s no way of knowing if it’ll happen again.

When you become pregnant again, lean on trusted family, friends, and professionals for support. Pregnancy after loss is incredibly anxiety-inducing, but having coping mechanisms like distractions and positive self-talk can help you get through it. Take it one day at a time. 

Here are some mantras for your next (hopefully healthy, full-term) pregnancy: 

  • “Today I am pregnant.”

  • “Different pregnancy, different outcome.”

  • “It’s okay to have hope.”

  • “I’m grateful for the opportunity to create a life.”

  • “I’m surrounded by love and support on this journey.”

  • “I choose to focus on the present moment and let go of anxiety about the future.”

  • “I’m resilient and strong, no matter the outcome.”

Experiencing pregnancy loss doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll face it again in the future — many women go on to have healthy pregnancies. No matter what the statistics say, the decision to try again after a loss isn’t easy. 

Allow yourself time to heal emotionally and physically as you decide your next steps. You can get more support in navigating TTC after loss when you join a community of women who understand and share similar experiences.

Alexa Davidson is a registered nurse and freelance health writer. She’s written for various women’s health companies, covering topics like natural hormone balance, fertility, and disease prevention. On her own fertility journey, Alexa has experienced profound loss and is passionate about supporting others with similar experiences. When she’s not researching or writing, Alexa can be found in the kitchen, where her specialty is making healthy versions of comfort foods. Nashville Hot Tofu, anyone?