Could an abortion increase the risk of problems in a subsequent pregnancy?
Answers from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
Generally, abortion isn't thought to cause fertility issues or complications in subsequent pregnancies. However, some research suggests a possible link between abortion and an increased risk of:
- Vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Placenta problems, such as retained placenta
During a medical abortion, a woman takes medication in early pregnancy to abort the fetus. In a surgical abortion, the fetus is removed from the uterus — typically with a vacuum device, a syringe or a spoon–shaped instrument with a sharp edge (curet) — as a surgical procedure. Rarely, a surgical abortion can damage the cervix or uterus. In such cases, surgery might be needed to correct the damage before a woman can conceive again. Also, rarely the cervix can be weakened, leading to the potential for the cervix to open prematurely (incompetent cervix) in a subsequent pregnancy. This is more likely to affect women who have had multiple surgical abortions.
If you've had an abortion and are concerned about the possible impact on a future pregnancy, consult your health care provider. He or she can help you understand the potential risks, as well as what you can do to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Aug. 05, 2014
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