Abortion refers to the termination of a pregnancy through surgical or medical treatment. Surgical abortion involves dilation of the cervix followed by suction of the fetus from the uterus, while medical abortion involves the combination of two abortion pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol (1).
Women may conceive at any time after an abortion without complications. However, under rare circumstances, an infection contracted during the abortion can pose complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy in the future (2).
This post will guide you through the complications and signs of pregnancy after abortion as well as the ideal waiting period before trying to conceive again.
Do Abortions Increase The Risk Of Future Pregnancy Complications?
It is unlikely to suffer from fertility issues or any future pregnancy complications due to a past abortion. However, certain notable factors pose a small risk to future pregnancies.
- Pelvic infection: You may contract an infection during an abortion. Since the cervix is dilated during an abortion, it allows bacteria to enter and infect your reproductive organs. This is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It can cause the fallopian tubes to scar, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy where the egg implants outside the uterus, mostly in the fallopian tubes (3).
- Uterine perforation: Surgical instruments, such as forceps or a curette, can sometimes perforate the uterine wall or scar the uterus during a surgical abortion. It may lead to complications in future pregnancies by increasing the risk of miscarriages or even infertility. Damage to the uterus may also require the doctor to remove the uterus by a procedure called hysterectomy (4).
- Retained tissue: Retained products of conception (RPOC) is a condition where certain parts of the fetus or the placenta remain in the uterus after an abortion. Manifestations may include hemorrhage, infection, and pelvic pain. Additionally, the uterus may not return to its normal state due to RPOC (5).
Antibiotics can treat infections. They may even be administered before the abortion to minimize the risk of infection. In case of uterus damage, laparoscopy, a second vacuum aspiration, and medication may be suggested. To ensure prompt treatment, check with your healthcare provider if you experience acute pain, fever, or foul-smelling vaginal discharge post abortion (2) (4).
How Long Should You Wait After An Abortion To Get Pregnant?
Prospective studies show that, depending on your menstruation period, ovulation may resume one to two weeks after the procedure (6). Your doctor may advise that you refrain from sexual intercourse for a week following the treatment to avoid complications, such as infections (4).
Since a menstrual period generally begins four to six weeks after an abortion, there are chances of conceiving before that. To avoid pregnancy, contraceptive devices such as IUD and birth control implants can be inserted after the treatment. You may also use oral contraceptives, birth control rings, patches, or condoms (7).
The decision of when to get pregnant after an abortion solely depends on you and your partner. However, you should consult your doctor and monitor your emotional and physical condition before deciding.
What Are The Signs Of Pregnancy After Abortion?
Pregnancy symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, tiredness, and breast tenderness are common for three to seven days after an abortion. Your breast may also leak or swell after the treatment, but these symptoms generally disappear in four days (8).
Sometimes, a continuing pregnancy may occur, which is seen in medical abortion when the abortion pills do not work, and the pregnancy continues even after its administration. In such cases, consult your doctor when the pregnancy symptoms manifest. If an ongoing pregnancy is detected, your healthcare provider may suggest a medical or surgical abortion again (9).
When Are Pregnancy Tests Accurate After An Abortion?
Your doctor may conduct a pregnancy test to confirm abortion three weeks after the procedure. However, the tests may sometimes show a false positive since the hCG hormone remains in the body three to six weeks post abortion (9) (1).
Abortion is not necessarily an end to your chances of becoming a mother. Pregnancy after abortion is safe and does not present any complications. Complications, such as prolonged bleeding and acute pain with fever, are rare and can be resolved with timely and appropriate treatment.
- After an Abortion.
- Can having an abortion affect my fertility?
- Can You Get PID From an Abortion?
- Dilation and Evacuation (D&E).
- Retained Products of Conception.
- Christian Fiala et al.; (2019); hCG Testing to Determine Outcome after Medical Abortion: A Review.
- Abortion Care.
- FAQ: Post-Abortion Care and Recovery.
- How do you know if you have a continuing pregnancy?