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A surgical abortion is an extremely common procedure and is in fact considered to be the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States of America. The routine nature of the procedure, though, can sometimes mask the complications it can be with.

Remember that it is an invasive surgical procedure that carries with it some risks and a small chance of complications.  

Are Surgical Abortions Safe?

Generally speaking, surgical abortions carried out in the first trimester of pregnancy are considered safe with a low risk of complications. The same procedure carried out later in the pregnancy may be associated with a higher risk of adverse effects following the procedure.

Some of the complications associated with surgical abortions include:

  • Adverse reaction to the Anesthesia - While most surgical abortions can be completed under local anesthesia, the surgeon may sometimes to decide to perform the procedure under regional or general anesthesia. These risks are the same as with any kind of surgery.
  • Injury - There is a chance that the lining of the cervix may get injured during the procedure.
  • Infection - The chances of a bacterial infection occurring in the uterus after the procedure are mild to moderate, although they increase greatly if a pre-existing infection was present. The patient should ensure that the doctor knows about any STDs that they may have contracted as well as ensure that the post-operative antibiotics are being taken as directed.

The symptoms of infection will start to appear a couple of days after the procedure and include cramping, pain in the lower abdomen, fever, and tenderness. The patient should report back to the doctor if such symptoms appear so that the post-operative medication can be tweaked as deemed necessary.

  • Perforation of the Uterine Wall - This is a rare complication and one that actually does not require any treatment as such. The patient may complain of a bit of pain and bleeding after the procedure has been completed. In some cases, a laparoscopy may be performed to check whether the bleeding has stopped or not.
  • Retained Pregnancy Tissue - In very rare circumstances, there are chances that the pregnancy tissue may not be removed from the uterus completely. Sometimes, it may be realized that the pregnancy was of an ectopic nature and thus not located in the uterus at all only after the procedure has been started.   

In such a case, the patient may be required to undergo another procedure so that the pregnancy tissue can be removed completely. Patients should also keep in mind that sometimes the symptoms of the pregnancy can take a few days to subside after the procedure is over and so should not panic if they still fell the same way as they did before the surgical abortion.


A surgical abortion is one of the safest procedures that is carried out, however, that does not undermine some of the potential risks that come along with it. Patients should carefully understand the procedure and talk to their doctors beforehand so that they know exactly what to expect.   

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