Mother and Baby

How an abortion affects your chance of getting pregnant again

Young couple

Knowing you’ve had an abortion can leave you worried about the impact on future pregnancies. So what’s the reality? Is your chances of conceiving affected by a past abortion. 

Whatever your reason for having an abortion was – and whether it was years ago or recently – it's important to know that it doesn’t mean it will affect your chances of one day being a mum.

Does an abortion affect your chances of getting pregnant again? 

It’s completely natural to worry about how your abortion may have affected your chances of getting pregnant again, but happily, in the large majority of UK cases no problems crop up.

Of course, just like with any operation, there is a small chance that complications can arise that may affect your fertility or pregnancy. And while this is rare, it’s a good idea to be aware of what these risks are: 

What are the risk factors that could affect pregnancy? 


There is a possible link between abortion and certain pregnancy and birth related risks and while these are uncommon, they are good to know about.

‘If there was a problem during your abortion, you may face difficulties getting – or staying – pregnant,’ says Dr Geetha Venkat, director of Harley Street Fertility Clinic.

‘The first step for the termination procedure is dilation of the cervix. In case of a tight cervix, more force has to be used to dilate it, which can traumatise the tissue. This can lead to an incompetent or weak cervix that can result in miscarriage or preterm birth.’

Read next: How soon after coming off the pill can you get pregnant 

Am I more at risk if I've had more than one abortion? 


If you’ve had a few abortions, you are at a higher risk of having an infection after the procedure.

‘Worst case scenario, this can block the fallopian tubes,’ explains Dr Venkat. ‘If the tubes are blocked, the egg and sperm cannot meet and natural conception will not occur.’

In this instance, Dr Venkat would advise IVF treatment, which can still result in a healthy, happy baby.

What if I had complications during my abortion? 


You shouldn’t have a huge amount of pain after having your abortion – if you do, make sure you get checked out to avoid long-lasting consequences.

‘Strong stomach pains could mean there is some of the conception left behind,’ explains Dr Venkat. ‘The prolonged bleeding may lead to anaemia and weakness, or possibly an infection, which results in tubal blockage.’

Although it’s small, there is a chance that the lining of the womb can be damaged during an abortion. ‘This can make it difficult to conceive, and how hard it will be is something that a doctor can verify,’ says Dr Venkat.

However, it doesn’t always make it impossible so keep trying – and make lifestyle changes to improve your chances when trying to conceive.

How to get pregnant after an abortion? 


After having an abortion, you should wait at least a month before getting pregnant again – your body has gone through a lot and needs time to rest up before it’s ready to take on another life. 

‘The womb lining needs to heal completely before trying for another baby,’ says Dr Venkat. ‘The bleeding usually lasts for two to three days but if it lasts much longer and if it’s heavy, you should consult your GP.’

Trying to conceive tips that the experts want you to know:

 

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1. Have regular sex

‘Every two or three days is ideal, as too much ejaculation or prolonged abstinence both have adverse effects on sperm quality and quantity,’ explains Dr Sarah Brewer, author of Planning a Baby? A Complete Guide to Pre-Conceptual Care. ‘Although if you’ve struggled to conceive in the past, it may be worth approaching it differently and holding off for as long as seven days before having sex during your fertile peak – this lets your partner’s sperm count build up.’
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2. Ditch the cigarettes

‘If you can’t stop, then cut right down,’ says Sarah. ‘Women who smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day are three times more likely to have difficulty conceiving than non-smokers.’
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3. Forget the Kama Sutra

‘When it comes to sex positions, missionary with a slightly tilted pelvis (i.e. a cushion under your bottom) can help,’ says Emma Cannon, fertility specialist and author of The Baby Making Bible. ‘But really I think the best advice is just to get on with it. Becoming too obsessive can create tension.’
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4. Get weight ready

‘If you need to reduce your weight, do this before starting to try for a baby,’ says Emma. ‘Being over or under weight can both have a negative impact on fertility, but if you lose too much weight too quickly while you’re TTC, your body thinks it isn't the optimum time to conceive.’
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5. Look after your body

If you’re trying to get pregnant, slowing down and taking care of your body is key, as Emma Cannon points out. ‘Over the last five years, I’ve noticed the exercise routines that women are putting themselves through can be really intense and really rigorous. The problem with this is it floods the body with adrenaline, which can tell the body it’s not a particularly good time to conceive. If you’ve been trying for a while and you are struggling, you need to just take a look at your exercise routine.’
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6. Focus on the present

‘It’s difficult not to obsess about becoming pregnant and having a baby,’ says life coach and relationship expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams. ‘I advise clients trying to conceive that the best way to reduce this stress is to shift your focus from the end goal to the present – so savouring daily activities you’d usually rush through. When you let yourself live in the moment, things feel less overwhelming for you both.’
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7. Cut down on alcohol 

‘One study found that women who drink five or less units of alcohol per week were twice as likely to conceive within six months than those drinking ten units or more,’ says Sarah.
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8. Don’t forget your relationship

‘When all your attention is on the process of trying to conceive, emotions can be neglected, which can lead to frustration, anger and disappointment,’ says Sloan. ‘So, actively make couple time to do things you enjoy and talk about everything other than conception.’
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9. Balance your eating

‘But don't be fooled by fad diets,’ says Emma. ‘It's a good idea to cut out processed foods, but don't be tempted to ditch whole food groups or replace meals with juices. And go for foods that are high in antioxidants, omega 3 oils and protein.’ Emma also recommends not to eat raw foods after 4pm, as these can chill the digestion and lower the core body temperature.
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10. Take a multivitamin 

‘As a safety net, take a multivitamin and mineral supplement especially designed for pregnancy or conception,’ says Sarah. ‘You’re looking for something that includes folic acid (400mcg daily), which helps to prevent certain developmental disorders in your baby such as spina bifida.’
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11. Find success stories

‘Athletes look to people who have achieved what they want and recreate it, and in the same way this is a good time to look at tips and techniques that have worked for others and find one that feels authentic to you,’ says Sloan. ‘Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress, and self-hypnosis is good for relaxation.’

Read next: 19 facts about ovulation 

Read next: The best sex positions to get pregnant 

 
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