Understanding Signs of Hormone Imbalance After Miscarriage

When you go through a miscarriage, it can be both an emotionally and physically taxing experience for all pregnant women. A miscarriage is typically thought of as an early pregnancy loss during the first trimester.  Medically speaking, a miscarriage is a loss anytime before the 20th week of pregnancy.  Regardless of which week the pregnancy loss occurs, you likely have many questions you want answered.  One such question may be, “Do hormones play a role in miscarriage?”  The effects of hormonal imbalances can have a tremendous impact on a woman’s pregnancy and overall health. The good news it that by understanding the warning signs of hormonal imbalance after miscarriage, women can take steps to better manage their health and hopefully avoid miscarriage in the future. Read this blog post to learn more about recognizing the signs of hormone imbalance after miscarriage.

Though it is estimated that around 25% of pregnancies end in a loss, it does not make the experience of going through it any easier.  From the moment you get that positive pregnancy test, you start dreaming of your life with your baby.  Many times, women are told a miscarriage is just like a heavy period.  While this may be the case for some, it is not the case for many others.  Going through a miscarriage can be a completely individual experience for each person that goes through it.  When you go through a miscarriage, it is natural to grieve for the child you may have had. But it is also important to recognize that there could be physical side effects as well, including hormonal imbalances due to the disruption of your body’s natural cycle. 

This article does not give medical advice.  Always consult with your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns.  If you are ever experiencing severe abdominal pain or heavy bleeding, seek medical attention immediately.

Signs of Hormone Imbalance After Miscarriage

A woman’s hormones are constantly fluctuating throughout her life due to stress, diet and lifestyle choices. There are many different hormones involved in the female reproductive system alone.  These hormones play a role in every part of your fertility journey, from conception to the production of breast milk. When one these hormones is out of balance, it can cause a variety of issues. Hormones being off balance can contribute to early miscarriages. On the other hand, going through a miscarriage or other pregnancy loss can be the cause of the hormones being out of balance.  

The endocrine system is responsible for producing and regulating hormones in the body. When this system becomes imbalanced or dysregulated, it can lead to a variety of symptoms and issues with conception. There can be issues in the follicular phase, luteal phase, ovulation, implantation, or other parts of the menstrual cycle. 

When a pregnancy ends, your system has to readjust the balance of hormones in your body.  These hormonal changes can cause withdrawal symptoms such as feeling sluggish, depression, mood swings, irritability, or anxiety.  This is caused by hormones like progesterone, estrogen, and cortisol being out of balance.

Some of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance after miscarriage include:

  • Fatigue or low energy levels
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety or depression and mood swings
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Irregular menstrual period 
  • Decreased libido 
  • Hair loss
  • Acne breakouts or dry skin
  • Vaginal dryness 
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting

It is important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to post-miscarriage hormonal imbalances and can be indicative of other medical conditions. 

Postpartum depression can occur after a pregnancy loss.  If you ever feel you are being affected by PPD, please reach out to your medical provider for help.  These signs can include feeling hopeless, overwhelmed or having trouble sleeping.  

A tired woman lays on a bed with her hands on her head.

The Role of Hormones in Miscarriage

Miscarriages occur for a variety of reasons, including chromosomal abnormalities or infections.  Another common underlying cause is an imbalance or disruption in hormones. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone that supports the growth of the placenta during pregnancy. When levels of the pregnancy hormones drop, it can indicate an early miscarriage. In most healthy pregnancies, the levels will continue to go up in the first few weeks.  On the other hand, abnormally high levels of HCG can sometimes indicate an ectopic pregnancy.  Ectopic pregnancies can be dangerous to the life of the mother and require immediate treatment.

The hormone progesterone plays a very important role in supporting a healthy pregnancy. Progesterone helps prepare the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg. Low progesterone can lead to miscarriages and other pregnancy complications.

Estrogen levels play a role in the development of the placenta and thickening of the uterine lining.  If you have low estrogen, you may be at greater risk of a miscarriage.  On the other hand, you can also have an estrogen dominance, or too much estrogen.  Too much estrogen can contribute to abnormal cell growth, which can lead to a miscarriage.

Thyroid hormones can also be linked to miscarriage. Low levels of thyroid hormones can lead to an increase in pregnancy loss.  An underactive thyroid can cause amenorrhea, which is the absence of a menstrual period.

Other hormones that are important during the menstrual cycle include follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). If these hormones are out of balance, it can disrupt ovulation and make it harder to get pregnant.

Your adrenal glands are also involved in the reproductive system. The hormones released by them, such as cortisol, can be affected by too much stress and have a direct effect on your menstrual cycle. It is possible for an imbalance of these hormones to lead to early pregnancy loss or other issues with conception. 

All of these hormones work together like cogs in a wheel, so when one is out of balance, it can affect the others as well. 

What Causes Hormonal Imbalances?

There are many potential causes of a hormonal imbalance, ranging from stress and lifestyle choices to underlying medical conditions. Women undergoing fertility treatments may also be at an increased risk for changes in hormone levels due to their fertiilty medications. Additionally, the body is often slow to return to its normal hormonal balance after pregnancy loss

The pituitary gland is responsible for producing hormones that regulate the ovaries during pregnancy. If this gland is not functioning properly, it can contribute to a miscarriage. In some cases, a woman’s body may produce antibodies which attack the fetus and cause miscarriage. This type of miscarriage is often caused by an autoimmune disorder and can be difficult to detect. Autoimmune disorders, which attack the immune system, can be a contributing factor to recurrent miscarriage.

Disorders that can cause blood clots, such as antiphospholipid syndrome, can also cause problems with blood flow to the uterus and placenta.

Certain medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, can cause hormonal imbalances that can contribute to miscarriages. In fact, polycystic ovarian syndrome is the leading cause of infertility in women.  Those with PCOS are more at risk of miscarriage due to the hormone issues that come with the condition.  Additionally, thyroid disorders and diabetes can also lead to changes in hormone levels.  These can also sometimes be found in those who have PCOS as well.

Adrenal fatigue, which can be caused by chronic stress, can also contribute to a hormonal imbalance. It involves changes in the production of hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and aldosterone. Adrenal fatigue is characterized by feelings of exhaustion, difficulty sleeping and mental cloudiness. 

Even birth control pills can cause imbalances. They are designed to alter hormone levels and can sometimes make it difficult for the body to ovulate or become pregnant when you stop taking them.

Misunderstanding the warning signs of a hormonal imbalance after miscarriage can put women at risk for further complications. Learning about the various hormones involved in reproduction and the signs to look out for can help you catch the problem before it becomes more serious.  This will also allow you time to meet with your doctors to come up with the proper treatment plan.

A stressed woman sits at a table and leans on her hand.

Ways to Address Hormonal Imbalance After Miscarriage

If a woman is concerned about her hormone levels after a miscarriage, she should visit her health care provider or a reproductive endocrinologist for an evaluation. They can go over your medical history and do a full workup of your reproductive health.  Your doctor might also recommend further hormone testing in order to fully determine any underlying issues.  They may also suggest lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise and reducing stress. Additionally, they may suggest dietary modifications to help balance hormones naturally. 

A fertility specialist can provide further testing of your hormonal levels.  They will usually do a blood test to check FSH, LH, AMH levels, estradiol, and progesterone levels.  If they determine that you have a hormone imbalance, they may recommend medications or supplements to help treat any hormonal disorders. 

Sometimes, fertility medications, along with IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in-vitro fertilization), may be recommended.  These types of cycles involve oral medication or injectable medications that are tailored to help balance hormonal imbalances in more severe cases.  This can help give a better chance of a successful pregnancy.

Some supplements can also help with hormonal imbalances. Vitex, or chasteberry, is commonly used to help regulate hormones and promote fertility. Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids can also be taken to help balance hormones.  Other supplements like progesterone creams may be recommended for those with low hormone levels.  Be sure to always check with your doctor before starting any new supplements.

A woman sits at a computer with a pained look on her face.

Hormonal imbalances can have a significant impact on fertility, so it is important to seek medical attention if you feel that your hormones may be out of balance after a miscarriage. Whether it was a very early miscarriage or a later miscarriage, you can expect to experience some emotional grief along with your physical symptoms.  With the right treatment and lifestyle modifications, many women are able to return their hormone levels back to normal and have a good chance of a healthy pregnancy. It is essential for those who experienced miscarriages or other pregnancy complications due to hormonal imbalance to understand how each hormone works in order for them to make informed decisions about their health care options.

By understanding your individual symptoms and underlying issues, you can take steps towards correcting any existing imbalances in order to improve their chances of having a successful pregnancy.  Be sure to look out for the most common signs of an imbalance so you can meet with your healthcare provider to address them.  The best thing you can do for yourself after a pregnancy loss is to give yourself grace and remember that the loss is not your fault.  Seek out a support group or someone you can talk to to help you through the grief.  Remember, even if you had an early loss, it is still worth grieving over.

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