Abortions and Future Pregnancy

Abortion is a safe, common medical procedure. Medical research and literature have found that abortion, surgical or medication, is unlikely to affect the chance of being able to get pregnant, and have a healthy pregnancy, in the future.

There is a lot of misinformation about the actual health risks associated with the termination of pregnancy.  Unless a rare or serious complication occurs and goes untreated, abortion does not pose a risk to a woman’s overall health or alter her ability to have a safe pregnancy. Some websites try to scare women away from having an abortion by saying that abortion causes cancer, emotional problems or infertility. But these things are not true.  In fact regarding infertility, women can become pregnant within days of having an abortion procedure.

A million abortions in the U.S., few complications

As with other surgical procedures, there are some rare and serious complications that may arise from an abortion, such as infection or injury to the uterus or cervix, that when left untreated may affect future pregnancy. A recent analysis of a national emergency department sample estimated that approximately 1 million abortion procedures take place in the United State each year, and the complication rate for those procedures is less than 1 in 100. And this includes all complications such as treatable infections, incomplete procedures that may be corrected, and surgical injuries of varying severity.

Complications are rare when the abortion is performed by a qualified medical provider like one of our board-certified/board-eligible, fellowship-trained doctors.

Medication & surgical abortions both don’t affect future pregnancies

Medication abortion and surgical abortion are both safe procedures. Neither procedure is safer than the other, nor does one safeguard fertility better than the other. A provider may recommend one procedure over the other based on the woman’s health history and how many weeks it has been since her last period.

Both procedures have different risks and benefits. Medication abortions do not require instruments or suction so there is no risk of cervical or uterine injury. There is a small chance that the abortion may be incomplete (pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus after taking the medication), or that a person can have a dangerous amount of bleeding.

A surgical abortion also has a small risk of very heavy bleeding, infection or injury to the uterus or cervix. There is also a very small risk that scar tissue could form inside of the uterus in the weeks after the abortion (called Asherman syndrome). All of these complications are extremely rare.

It is unlikely that a medication abortion or surgical abortion will have an effect on a woman’s ability to have a baby when she is ready.

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What is the risk of pregnancy complications after an abortion?

A majority of medical literature has yet to identify a verifiable or repeatable connection between abortion and complex pregnancies. There is not conclusive evidence that previous abortion will increase a person’s risk of ectopic pregnancy or secondary infertility, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

There is conflicting evidence that children born to women who had previous abortions are at a greater risk of having a low birth weight (a potential pregnancy complication for most women carrying their first pregnancy to term). Studies also suggest that there is not an increased risk of maternal morbidity or infant mortality, as compared with first time mothers who have not had an abortion.

Our team is careful to assess and discuss the risks and side effects with each patient in greater detail. You will be able to present your concerns to your health educator and doctor before consenting to having an abortion.
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