Will an abortion affect my health? Will I be able to have children later on?
Most women won’t experience any problems with having an abortion and are generally safe. But like any medical treatment, there is a small risk that something could go wrong. The risk of complications increases the later in pregnancy an abortion is carried out. Here we will explain the different risk and possible complications associated with having an abortion, both medical and surgical.
Many women are able to get pregnant immediately afterwards, so you should start using contraception right away if you don’t want this to happen. Your provider should advise you about this at the time you have the abortion. Talk to your provider about which method of birth control is best for you.
Regardless, with any medical procedure large or small, there are always some possible risks and complications. You should be aware of any possible outcome of your procedure.
The main risks associated with an abortion are:
- Infection of the womb – occurs in up to 1 in every 10 abortions
- Some of the pregnancy remaining in the womb – occurs in up to 1 in every 20 abortions
- Continuation of the pregnancy – occurs in less than 1 in every 100 abortions;
- Excessive bleeding – occurs in about 1 in every 1,000 abortions; severe cases may require a blood transfusion.
- Damage of the entrance to the womb (cervix) – occurs in up to 1 in every 100 surgical abortions.
- Damage to the womb – occurs in 1 in every 250 to 1,000 surgical abortions and less than 1 in 1,000 medical abortions carried out at 12 to 24 weeks.
Could an abortion increase the risk of problems in a subsequent pregnancy?
There typically aren’t any risks that are common with abortions and subsequent pregnancies. But there are always some exceptions.
Risks may depend on the type of abortion performed:
- Medical abortion. This early in the pregnancy a medication is taken to abort the fetus. Medical abortions do not appear to increase the risk of future pregnancy complications.
- Surgical abortion.A surgical procedure removes the fetus from the uterus through the vagina. It’s typically done using suction and a sharp, spoon-shaped tool (curet). Rarely, this can cause scarring of the uterine wall (Asherman syndrome), which may make it difficult to get pregnant. Women who have multiple surgical termination procedures may also have more risk of trauma to the cervix.
There’s also a very small risk to your fertility and future pregnancies if you develop a womb infection during the procedure that’s not treated promptly. The infection could spread to your fallopian tubes and ovaries, known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
PID can increase your risk of infertility or an ectopic pregnancy, where an egg implants itself outside the womb. Infections are treated before they reach this stage, and you’ll often be given antibiotics before an abortion to reduce the risk of infection. Get medical advice as soon as possible if you experience any signs of infection after an abortion, such as:
- Severe pain
- A high temperature (fever)
- Odorous vaginal discharge
If you think you may have any of these symptoms or have any concerns, contact your provider to ensure you are healthy after an abortion.
If you have had an abortion and you are concerned about its possible impact on a future pregnancy, talk to your health care provider. He or she can help you understand the potential risks and the steps you can take to help ensure a healthy pregnancy or successful termination. You can always schedule an appointment with us at Garden State Gynecology to discuss any concerns that you may have.