Could an abortion increase the risk of problems in a subsequent pregnancy?
Answers from Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
Generally, elective abortion isn't thought to cause fertility issues or complications in future pregnancies. However, some studies suggest a possible link between pregnancy termination and an increased risk of premature birth and low birth weight.
Risks may depend on the type of abortion performed:
- Medical abortion. Medication is taken in early pregnancy 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 abortion procedures may also have more risk of trauma to the cervix.
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.
July 19, 2017
Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Steinauer J, et al. Overview of pregnancy termination. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 12, 2017.
- Makhlouf MA, et al. Adverse pregnancy outcomes among women with prior spontaneous or induced abortions. American Journal of Perinatology. 2014;31:765.
- Cedars MI. Intrauterine adhesions. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 12, 2017.
- Harwood B, et al. First trimester medication abortion (termination of pregnancy). https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 15, 2017.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Practice Bulletins — Gynecology and the Society of Family Planning. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 143: Medical Management of First-Trimester Abortion. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2014;123:676. Reaffirmed 2016.
- Frequently asked questions. Special procedures FAQ043. Induced abortion. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Induced-Abortion. Accessed May 15, 2017.
- Butler Tobah YS (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 26, 2017.