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Have you had an abortion in the past, and are you thinking about trying to get pregnant now?

Or have you already been trying for a baby for a while without success, and are worried about the impact your previous pregnancy termination may have had on your fertility? 

Abortion does come with complications sometimes, but it's generally a safe procedure. Some pro-life groups say that a woman has a 25 percent chance of becoming infertile if she has one abortion, something they take from a quote from Bohumil Stipal, a previous Czechoslovakian deputy minister of Health.

The guy said that a quarter of women who "interrupted their first pregnancy remain permanently childless".

Obviously, there are very many reasons for that, and infertility due to the abortion is only one possible cause. Abortion is known as a very safe procedure that does not have a big risk of impacting a woman's future fertility. Though it's hard to get actual figures, it is clear that risks of other complications related to pregnancy can indeed go up after an abortion. Miscarriage, damage to the cervix, and preterm labor are all possible risks of abortion, and the three are pretty inter-related. There is also an increased risk of placenta previa, when the placenta covers the cervix during pregnancy. Let's take a closer look at the various abortion techniques and their possible long-term impact on your fertility.

Aspiration abortion

Aspiration can be performed from six weeks to 16 weeks into a pregnancy. This procedure involves a suction machine removing fetal tissues. The cervix, which is normally shut tight at this point of a pregnancy, needs to be dilated artificially before the procedure can take place. The actual aspiration abortion doesn't take longer than 10 or 15 minutes, but recovery will take longer and patients may remain at the abortion clinic for a few hours after, to monitor their health. Risks of aspiration abortion include:

  • Excessive bleeding after the abortion
  • An infection
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to the cervix
  • Uterine scarring or even perforation

Out of these, the latter two may pose a problem for a subsequent pregnancy. Women seeking an abortion can reduce the risk of these complications which are rare in western countries by receiving medical care from a qualified abortion clinic. If you have had an aspiration abortion in the past, you may like to see an OBGYN to check if there is any damage to your cervix. British research found that cervical damage occurs in around four out of 1,000 aspiration abortions, so you don't have to be too worried.

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)

A D&E is what happens if a pregnancy is beyond 16 weeks. The cervical dilation process is similar to the one carried out with an aspiration abortion an anesthetic will numb the cervix, after which cones are used to progressively dilate the cervix. Because the fetus will be a lot larger at this point, a spoon-shaped device called a curette will be used, as well as forceps for larger parts. The uterus is scraped during a D&E, to ensure no fetal materials have remained inside. This act poses a slight risk of damaging and scarring the uterus. Women who have just had a D&E may experience some bleeding and cramping and may pass blood clots. Uterine perforation, damage to the lining of the uterus, and cervical damage or scarring are complications of a D&E. Again, a skilled professional will reduce this risk to a minimum.

Medical abortion

Medical abortion has become a very popular option for women who are in the very early stages of pregnancy and who do not wish to wait until six weeks to have an aspiration abortion. Cervical damage can occur here, too in less than 10 out of 1,000 medical abortions. I don't know why, because your cervix isn't dilated during this procedure at all. Medical abortions, with drugs such as mifepristone, are not suitable for women who are at a high risk of uterine rupture like if you have had a c-section before.

In conclusion

There is little evidence that abortion poses a significant risk to your fertility or the health of future pregnancies. Abortion is a very common procedure, and skilled and licensed providers operating in accordance with the law can generally provide you with a safe procedure. Those women who have had an abortion in the past don't normally have cause for concern, but talking to your doctor to discuss your personal situation will give you more clarity.