Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Abortion: Does it affect subsequent pregnancies?

Could an abortion increase the risk of problems in a subsequent pregnancy?

Updated: 08-06-2011

Answer

Generally, abortion isn't thought to cause fertility issues or complications in subsequent pregnancies. However, some research suggests a possible link between abortion and an increased risk of:

  • Vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Placenta previa — when the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix, which can cause severe bleeding before or during delivery

During a medical abortion, a woman takes oral medications — such as mifepristone (Mifeprex) — in early pregnancy to abort the fetus. During a surgical abortion, the fetus is removed from the uterus — typically with a vacuum device, a syringe or a spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp edge (curette) — as an outpatient surgical procedure. Rarely, a surgical abortion can damage the cervix or uterus. In such cases, surgery might be needed to correct the damage before a woman can conceive again.

If you've had an abortion and are concerned about the possible impact on a future pregnancy, consult your health care provider. He or she can help you understand the potential risks, as well as what you can do to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.