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Medically, abortion can mean a planned surgical termination of a pregnancy. But when most people refer to the term, it means an induced abortion or an unwanted pregnancy. An induced abortion may be worrisome concerning its effect on future pregnancies or fertility. Usually having an abortion will not affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant later on.
However, a very rare case of miscarriage due to abortion exists called the Asherman syndrome. People with this rare condition have their uterine walls collapse after surgery. It can be treated by putting a balloon inside the uterus to keep the uterus open while it heals.
Can having an abortion affect fertility? The short answer is no but let’s explore further nuances as to why people tend to think fertility might be affected by an abortion.
2 Types of Abortion
There are two types of abortion procedures that can be chosen by a medical professional based on how long the pregnancy has come along or on the woman’s preference.
Medical Abortion: Does Abortion Affect Fertility If Done Medically?
Here the woman takes medicines to induce an abortion. Sometimes, this abortion is advised when the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. These medications ensure that all products inside the uterus (fetus, bloodlines, etc.) are passed out from the body and do not lead to an infection. Infections in the uterus can affect future pregnancies.
Did you know that a combination of prostaglandin and mifepristone for medical abortion has a success rate of 99%? Check out how medical abortions are prescribed according to the gestational period:
During this period, an abortion is induced by methotrexate which stops the embryo cells from multiplying further. This medicine is usually reserved for ectopic pregnancies where the embryo has implanted outside the uterus and a pregnancy would be fatal. Misoprostol, on the other hand, stimulates uterine contractions to release the pregnancy.
For an abortion during this time, doctors prescribe misoprostol (Cytotec) and mifepristone (Mifeprex) amongst other medicines. Mifepristone is advanced only after special certification.
Surgical Abortion: Does Abortion Affect Fertility If It Surgical?
Also known as suction aspiration abortion, surgical abortion is a one-day procedure done to remove the remaining products of pregnancy or to terminate a pregnancy. Depending on the gestational period, here’s how doctors perform surgical abortion:
Vacuum aspiration is done to abort the pregnancy before you are 16 weeks pregnant. This involves inserting a piece of special equipment to remove the placenta and the fetus from the uterus.
D&E (Dilation and Evacuation) is the procedure to surgically remove the placenta and the fetus combined with other techniques like curettage, dilation, forceps removal, and vacuum aspiration. In case of a miscarriage which usually occurs when you are 14 weeks pregnant, D&C (Dilation and Curettage) are used to remove the remaining products.
Note: Curettage involves using a curette to remove tissues from the uterine lining.
Induction abortion is suggested n the later part of pregnancy (when you are 24 weeks pregnant) to induce delivery. After the fetus is delivered, the remaining products in the uterus like the placenta are removed from the uterus.
Does Abortion Affect Fertility and Future Pregnancies?
The most harrowing question for most women undergoing an abortion is “does abortion affect future pregnancies?” The Guttmacher Institute estimates 65.4% of abortions have been conducted during the 8th week of pregnancies or even earlier. Around 12% of abortions take place during the first 12 weeks. Most abortions will not affect a woman’s fertility given they are done in a clean and safe medical environment. To corroborate this fact further, check out what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have to say about it: they assert that no abortion does not increase the risks of infertility, depression, or breast cancer.
Risks of Abortion
The ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) also asserts that the risk of death after an abortion is less than 100,000. However, the later you have an abortion in your pregnancy, the riskier the complications will be.
Did you know that the risk of death from childbirth is 14 times higher than the risk of death from abortion? Here are some rare potential complications that abortion can induce in you:
Slight bleeding after an abortion is normal and is not an extreme medical condition. In rare cases, women may require a blood transfusion for lost blood.
An incomplete abortion means tissues or other products of pregnancy have been left behind in the uterus. The D&C method is used to remove these products but this risk can only occur if a person takes medicine to induce an abortion.
Infections can affect your future fertility as it damages the uterus. This happens when products of pregnancy remain inside the uterus and are not removed. Doctors will typically give antibiotics before an abortion procedure is done.
Ab abortion can injure other organs like the bladder or the uterus sometimes. Injuring a uterus is called Asherman Syndrome. This becomes a highly possible risk as abortion takes place further down the pregnancy.
Are There Any Pregnancy Complications After an Abortion?
In one study researchers found that pregnancy complications after an abortion occurred only in 2.1% of 54,911 abortions in 50,273 women. Only 0.23% of the cases have had extreme complications.
How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After an Abortion?
A woman who underwent an abortion procedure starts ovulating after a minimum of 2 weeks which means they can get pregnant before their next period. The menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman so this is just a general guideline.
Another factor that decides when you can get pregnant after an abortion is the duration of your terminated pregnancy. If you had an abortion earlier in your pregnancy then you may not ovulate for several weeks because the pregnancy hormones keep lingering.
If you want to avoid pregnancy right after an abortion use contraception such as an intrauterine device. It has been approved by the ACOG as a safe contraceptive method for women who underwent an abortion recently.
An abortion is the surgical or medical termination of pregnancy due to a person’s preference or unavoidable health issues. Regardless of the approach, medicine approves abortion as a safe procedure that must be every woman’s human right. Having an abortion doesn’t mean they cannot get pregnant again as it has no effect on fertility or other conception methods. The only concerning fact is that Asherman syndrome can cause the uterine wall to collapse which is also a rare scenario. This condition is treatable and is not life-threatening or causes infertility.