Facts About Conceiving After an Abortion

Julie Kirk
Asian woman looking concerned

Women who have terminated a previous pregnancy often worry about the possibility of conception after an abortion. But for most women, conceiving again shouldn't be a problem, regardless of which abortion procedure available is used.

Medical Abortions

A medical abortion is a medication-based abortion. It is typically available up to about nine-weeks gestation. Mifepristone (also known as RU-486, the abortion pill or mifeprex) is used in combination with misoprostol (Cytotec).

How the Medication Works

When a woman takes a mifepristone pill, it changes the hormones and blocks progesterone production which is needed to continue the pregnancy. After taking the pill, the fetus stops growing and the uterus is no longer able to support a pregnancy. Because a woman's body may not expel the pregnancy tissue on its own right away, the medication misoprostol is taken about 48 hours after the mifepristone. This pill causes the uterus to begin contracting and bleeding and will be quite similar to having a very heavy period.

Conception After the Abortion

Most women who have a medication-based abortion will not have problems conceiving in the future as long as there are no untreated infections or remaining tissue.

Surgical Abortions

There are two main types of surgical abortions.

Aspiration

The first procedure is aspiration (also known as vacuum aspiration, suction aspiration and suction curettage), which uses a vacuum to empty the uterus. A local anesthetic will be administered to the cervix. A sedative may also be given. The procedure is typically performed up to about 16 weeks gestation.

Dilation and Evacuation

The second surgical procedure is dilation and evacuation (D&E) which is typically performed after 16 weeks gestation. This procedure uses surgical instruments to remove the fetus and surrounding tissue. Medications are also given to control pain and to reduce infection rates. The type of surgical abortion that is performed will depend on how far along the pregnancy is and other health concerns.

Conception After Surgical Abortion

Conception after abortion should not be a problem for women who have the surgical procedure, assuming that the abortion is performed in a sterile environment with proper medical supervision and equipment.

Abortion Follow-up

One of the most important aspects of any abortion is having proper follow-up care in the days and weeks following the procedure. Infection, excess bleeding, and fevers all need to be addressed and treated quickly to minimize the long-term effects on the patients.

Trouble With Conception After Abortion

There are, however, some instances when a woman may have difficulty with conception after abortion. Your chance of getting pregnant after abortion could be impacted by the following:

Multiple Abortions

Procedures performed inside the uterus, whether abortions or other surgeries, may produce scar tissue that can make it difficult to conceive, especially if the scarring occurs near the fallopian tubes.

Weakening of the Cervix

Any procedure that forces the cervix to dilate and open may weaken it, especially if it has happened more than once. Doctors may be able to do a simple procedure called a cervical cerclage that will help the cervix stay closed during the pregnancy, so it's important that the OB/GYN knows the full history of the patient.

Increase Chances of Getting Pregnant After Abortion

Most studies do not find any relationship between properly performed abortions and infertility. The average couple will conceive within a year of actively trying, but there are some methods that couples can try to increase their chances:

Ovulation Monitoring

Knowing exactly when ovulation occurs can dramatically increase the possibility of conception. Most women with regular 28-day cycles will ovulate on day 14, but this can vary by a few days. Using an over-the-counter ovulation predictor kit can help pinpoint ovulation day.

Lifestyle Modifications

Smoking, drug use, obesity, and poor nutrition can all affect a woman's fertility. Changing unhealthy habits may help improve the likelihood of conceiving.

Fertility Testing

After several months of trying unsuccessfully, a couple may want to be tested to see if there is a medical reason for not conceiving. There are also over-the-counter fertility tests available that can give couples preliminary information for both partners.

See a Fertility Specialist

If a couple has been unable to conceive for 12 months, or 6 months if the woman is 35 or above, they should consider seeing a fertility specialist for guidance. Possible treatment options include fertility medications or assisted reproductive techniques such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization.

Conception Is Possible

A woman who has had a past abortion is not at a higher risk for fertility problems as long as her body has properly healed from the procedure and she has not had any complications from the abortion.

Facts About Conceiving After an Abortion