Knowing you’ve had an abortion can leave you worried about the impact on future pregnancies. So what’s the reality?
Whatever your reason for having an abortion was – and whether it was years ago or recently – it doesn’t mean that it will affect your chances of one day being a mum.
How 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.’
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.’