Abortion is a medical or surgical procedure that ends a pregnancy. Abortions can be either medical or surgical depending on gestational age, any medical conditions, and a woman’s preference.
Will a past abortion affect my next pregnancy?
Here are the facts, a past medical or surgical abortion is unlikely to affect a person’s future ability to conceive, but here are some other facts to consider.
Medical abortions are often used in the first 4-10 weeks of pregnancy, and involve a combination of medications, such as mifepristone and misoprostol.
Mifepristone, which is given first, blocks the effects of progesterone, which is the hormone that supports an early pregnancy before the placenta develops. Sometime in the next 48 hours, a dose of misoprostol is also given, which causes bleeding and cramping.
These medications are between 91 and 98% effective, depending on the gestational age. If medication doesn’t finish the process, healthcare providers will typically turn to a surgical option.
These medications are not linked to any future reproductive difficulty, but there is a very small chance of infection after a medical abortion.
Surgical abortion is used between 6 and 14 weeks’ gestation, or when a medical procedure is unsuccessful.
Due to the use of instruments, there’s always a small risk of cervical or uterine injury associated with a surgical abortion. There is also a risk of infection, so women will typically be given antibiotics to prevent an infection. An untreated infection may result in Pelvic Inflammatory Disorder (PID), which can have serious reproductive side effects, but this is rare when antibiotics are taken correctly.
Some abortions are necessary for medical reasons, such as ectopic pregnancies. Surgical abortion of an ectopic pregnancy may make pregnancy more difficult later on depending on the location of implantation. Implantation in an area like an ovary or fallopian tube can lead to complications later.
The vast majority of women trying to conceive who have had abortions in the past go on to conceive, and deliver healthy babies in the future. However, you can always speak with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
- “Medical Abortion.” The Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Staff. July 7, 2018. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/medical-abortion/about/pac-20394687
- “Could an abortion increase the risk of problems in a subsequent pregnancy?” The Mayo Clinic. Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D. July 19, 2017. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/abortion/faq-20058551
- “Can having an abortion affect my fertility?” NHS. NHS. August 8, 2016. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/can-having-an-abortion-affect-my-fertility/
- “Medical Versus Surgical Abortion.” University of California San Francisco Health. UCSF Medical Center. N.d. Available at: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/medical_versus_surgical_abortion/
- “The Abortion Pill.” Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood. N.d. Available at: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/abortion/the-abortion-pill
Ovia’s goal is to support the health and wellness of our members throughout their reproductive health journeys. Ovia cannot, however, encourage or discourage the very personal decision of whether to have an abortion or counsel on whether and how an abortion may be performed in a particular case. Abortion may or may not be legal in your state and in your particular personal situation. None of the information made available through Ovia is intended to provide you with legal advice regarding abortion. Ovia may refer you to third-party websites or publications for additional information on reproductive health issues, including abortion. Ovia is not affiliated with these third parties and is not responsible for any information that they make available to you.