Many women who choose abortion still desire to have a child in the future. But how can an abortion affect a subsequent pregnancy? Is conceiving after abortion still possible?
In most circumstances, having an abortion does not affect your fertility. Even if you haven’t had your period yet, you can become pregnant within a few weeks after having an abortion. This will be determined by how far along you were in your pregnancy before the abortion.
Methods of Abortion
There are two types of abortion: medical abortion and surgical abortion. A woman’s choice may be influenced by several circumstances, including the stage of her pregnancy and her personal preferences.
1. Medical abortion
Medical abortions require the administration of medicine, and women typically employ this approach during the first trimester. For example, a combination of mifepristone and prostaglandin has a success rate of up to 99 per cent.
According to one study, medical abortion has no additional risk of:
- ectopic pregnancy
- low birth weight
- preterm birth in a later pregnancy
2. Surgical abortion
A surgical abortion, often known as dilation and curettage — or D & C — involves suction and the use of a curette to remove the foetus.
In rare situations, a surgical abortion might result in uterine wall scarring (Asherman syndrome). If you’ve had many surgical abortions, you may be at a higher risk of uterine wall scarring. Scarring may make it more difficult to conceive in the future. It may also raise the likelihood of a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Remember, an abortion must be performed in a safe and sterile atmosphere by a registered medical physician. Any abortion method that is not performed by a doctor is considered unsafe and can result in acute complications as well as long-term reproductive and health issues.
Is Abortion Harmful to Future Pregnancies?
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Abortions, according to research, do not affect fertility, and the dangers associated with both types are quite minimal. Women who have undergone abortions can usually have healthy pregnancies again.
The risks of a medical abortion appear to be lower than those of surgical abortion, albeit this may be because medical abortions are more common in early pregnancy. Abortion early in a pregnancy minimises the chance of difficulties overall.
Medical abortion is relatively safe, and evidence shows that it does not raise the chance of future pregnancy issues such as preterm birth, low birth weight, pregnancy loss, or ectopic pregnancy, in which the embryo attaches somewhere other than the uterus.
In rare situations, a surgical abortion might result in uterine wall scarring. Doctors refer to the condition as Asherman’s syndrome. Scarring may make it more difficult to get pregnant again and may result in future pregnancy loss.
It should be noted that a woman can become pregnant shortly after having an abortion. Those who do not want to become pregnant within a few weeks of having an abortion should utilise contraception.
How Long Should You Wait After An Abortion Before Trying To Conceive?
Doctors often advise waiting for at least one to two weeks after an abortion to limit the risk of infection.
The decision to conceive again after an abortion should be made in consultation with your doctor. Previously, doctors advised women to wait at least three months before trying to conceive again. This is no longer true.
There is no need to wait if you are mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to become pregnant again. However, if you had issues after your abortion or aren’t emotionally prepared, it could be best to wait until you’re feeling better.
When Do Periods Start After Abortion?
A woman’s next period normally occurs 4–8 weeks following having an abortion. Because abortion empties the uterus, the menstrual cycle is restarted.
The start date of a woman’s next period is determined by whether or not she uses birth control, and if so, the type.
A woman’s first menstruation after a surgical abortion may be shorter than typical. Because abortion surgery empties the uterus, there is less tissue to expel, which can lead to a lighter period.
Following a medical abortion, a woman’s first period may be longer than usual because the therapy includes hormones that may affect her cycle duration. This phase may also be longer since the body may have more tissue to remove following the treatment.
If a woman’s menstruation does not begin within 8 weeks of having an abortion, she should consult with her doctor.
Sex After Abortion
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It’s usually recommended that you wait around two weeks after any type of abortion treatment before having intercourse or putting anything vaginally. This minimises infection risk and is an important aspect of post-abortion treatment.
If you have unprotected intercourse after an abortion, contact your doctor or a local clinic to find out what steps you can take to avoid pregnancy.
If you suddenly experience intense pain during sex following an abortion, seek counsel from your local clinic. If they decide it is not an emergency, they may still schedule a follow-up with you.
How Soon After Having An Abortion Can You Become Pregnant?
Ovulation can happen as quickly as two weeks after having an abortion. This means a woman could fall pregnant again before her next period. Menstrual periods, on the other hand, vary in length, and women with shorter cycles may ovulate sooner.
The length of the pregnancy before the abortion is another factor that determines ovulation timing. If the pregnancy was more advanced, a woman may not ovulate for several weeks following the abortion. This might happen if pregnancy hormones remain in the body.
Use contraception to avoid pregnancy shortly after an abortion. A woman can use any contraceptive technique, including an intrauterine device, immediately after her pregnancy ends, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Anyone who suspects they may have become pregnant soon after having an abortion should get a pregnancy test. If the test results are positive, consult a doctor to ascertain whether there is a new pregnancy or if leftover pregnancy hormones are present.
When To Have A Pregnancy Test After An Abortion?
A pregnancy test may yield a false-positive result shortly after an abortion. This happens because the body still has high quantities of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
Image from iStock.
While hCG levels usually drop fast after an abortion, it can take many days or weeks for them to recover to normal.
It can take anywhere from 16 days to 2 months for hCG levels in the body to fall below those indicated by a pregnancy test. If you take a pregnancy test within that time frame, whether you’re still pregnant or not, you’re likely to test positive.
Consult a doctor if you suspect you’re pregnant again soon after having an abortion. Instead of employing an over-the-counter (OTC) pregnancy test, they can provide a blood-based pregnancy test. They can also use an ultrasound to confirm that the pregnancy has ended.
Signs Of Pregnancy After Abortion
Pregnancy symptoms after an abortion will be identical to pregnancy symptoms in general. They are as follows:
- swollen breasts
- hypersensitivity to odours or flavours
- nauseousness or vomiting
- missed period
Take a home pregnancy test if you haven’t had a period within six weeks following the abortion. Call your doctor if the results are positive. A blood test can be performed to identify whether you are pregnant or still have pregnancy hormones from an aborted pregnancy.
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Doctor’s Answers on Conceiving After Abortion
Members of our TAP community sent in the following questions regarding abortion:
1. In a scenario where a woman has had three abortions in her twenties, what are the conceiving odds that might be present to her?
2. Also, if an older man is dating a younger woman, in your opinion, which one of them should be bound with contraception?
Below is Dr Ngs’s answer:
According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, abortion may be associated with a small increase in the risk of subsequent miscarriage or preterm delivery. The higher number of abortions the higher the risk of subsequent miscarriage.
There is a need for studies which focus directly on the connection between multiple abortions and pregnancy loss and women should be informed of the risks of repeated abortion to their future health.
For the second question, this should generally be a joint decision. It is important that the younger woman use contraception (e.g. oral contraceptive pill) considering their increased level of fertility.
The older man should also be using contraception in the form of condoms (as older men are still fertile) to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
In addition, male fertility is less affected by age unlike women, so it is important for the older man to use condoms if his younger female partner is not using any form of contraception.
Updates by Matt Doctor
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