It's a tough time. The baby you wanted so much and had started idly forming a picture of in your mind is suddenly, heartbreakingly gone. At times like these, many women will want to retrench, recover from the physical symptoms and make an effort to prepare their bodies for the next cycle when they can try again, should there be no complicating factors to prevent this (anyone having had an ectopic pregnancy or a molar pregnancy will have other instructions from their doctors). Yet many other women find that all they can think of at this time, all that keeps them going, is trying again - and in most such cases, the sooner the better.
This is perfectly normal, but with all the upheaval the body has been through it can be hard to work out what's happening and when. Some women don't ovulate at all before their next period, just as all women have anovulatory cycles from time to time, but on most cases ovulation will occur. It's just a case of pinning down when.
There is no hard and fast rule to apply to this. Because women miscarry at different stages of pregnancy, with different quantities of hormones in their blood, as well as different rates at which these hormone levels decrease, it is not as simple as adding or subtracting a week here or there. While it is generally acknowledged that the body will not permit new eggs to be readied for ovulation while the main female pregnancy hormone, Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) is present, the first part of the normal cycle may well be shorter or longer than usual.
Before you start trying to detect ovulation, however, you must make sure that your doctor is satisfied there are no leftover tissues from your pregnancy that may cause either an infection that would endanger a new pregnancy, or an obstruction that may lead to an ectopic pregnancy. They can determine this with an ultrasound scan, which is advisable if your pregnancy went beyond 8 weeks. Or, if your pregnancy was shorter, your bleeding has stopped and vaginal discharge is colourless and odourless as normal, they may be happy to give you the all-clear without a scan. If you have had medical management of your miscarriage in the form of a D&C (dilatation and curettage) or ERPC (evacuation of the remaining products of conception), however, your doctor may well advise you to wait until the next cycle, as both may involve abrasion to the uterus lining that can become infected if foreign substances like semen are introduced. Also, be aware that most doctors prefer you to wait until after your first period before trying again, partly for this reason of eliminating leftover tissue, but also because it then makes dating a new pregnancy far easier.
Once you have the all-clear, however, you should continue using home pregnancy testing kits until they show negative - buying cheap tests in bulk off the internet is most cost-effective way to do this. Once your test is negative, count that as the first day of your cycle. How you proceed beyond this is a matter of personal preference: your body is still getting back to normal after your pregnancy, so those used to checking their own symptoms such as cervical mucus, temperature charting and so on may find their ovulation highly unpredictable. Even those who regularly experience ovulation pain or mittleschmerz may not have it during that first cycle. So if your body seems to be back to normal and you have a chart comparable to previous months, by all means use this as a guideline but, if not, here are some other ways.
One of the easiest ways of working out when ovulation occurs is to use the ovulation predictor kits. The up side is that they should give you a fairly accurate idea of when you ovulate. The down side is that you could have a seven week cycle or more after your miscarriage, and you may find yourself using a lot of them. It's worth shopping around on the web to get a good deal. If money is no object, use one test each day at around the same time until you see the test turn positive, at which point ovulation is likely to occur within 12-48 hours. If you're strapped for cash and were used to longer cycles before your pregnancy, you may be able to save some tests by only testing every other day for as long as the result lines remain pale, but switch to everyday once the result line starts to get darker. In both cases, you can stop testing once you've had a positive result.
Another method is to use the saliva testing kits - more expensive as an initial purchase, but they're reusable and last for as long as you need them. Simply follow the instructions with your particular test, paying particular attention to the diagram showing the 'ferning' pattern you're looking for so you can recognise it easily. Again, this should indicate ovulation within 12-48 hours.
There are some women for whom neither of these techniques will work, either because their job or lifestayle makes it difficult for them to test at the right time, or because their bodies are still so up and down their hormone levels are on the erratic side. For these women, the best option may simply be to have a frank discussion with their partner and be prepared to make love every other day, or at least once every three days, until either their period arrives or, after a few weeks, fails to show at all, at which point another home pregnancy test is in order. This doesn't strictly tell you when you've ovulated, but it does provide a way of ensuring that, should you ovulate, there will at least be sperm around to meet the egg it on its way to the uterus.
Finally, there is no right or wrong time to start trying again after a miscarriage that can be applied to all couples. The most obvious manifestation of a miscarriage may be in the physical symptoms, but the emotional pain is just as real as the physical. Yet amid the pain there is hope. The majority of couples experiencing a miscarriage will go on to have a healthy, full-term pregnancy next time around. May you be one of them.