Many women who decide to have an abortion - be it for medical or psychological reasons - still want to have a baby in the future; however, there is a common myth that getting pregnant after an abortion is difficult and unsafe. Is this true?
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Many women who decide to have an abortion – be it for medical or psychological reasons – still want to have a baby in the future; however, there is a common myth that getting pregnant after an abortion is difficult and unsafe. Is this true?
There are many valid reasons to have an abortion: a medical prescription, relationship issues, psychological problems, or simply having different plans for the next few years of your life (see this study, for example). However, a termination absolutely doesn’t mean that in the future the woman may not decide to get pregnant again. Are there particular risk factors after an abortion? Is it true that fertility drops dramatically after a termination? And how long should you wait before trying to conceive again? Let us find out.
In general, legally performed medical abortions have absolutely no negative effect on future fertility and pregnancy rates. However, some situations can occur – especially with surgical terminations – that can require treatment before a woman is able to conceive again:
- Weak cervix. For the foetus to come out during a medically-induce termination, the cervix has to dilate. After the abortion, the cervix can remain weak and dilated. It will not affect a woman’s ability to conceive, but there will be a risk of miscarriage (more info here). Get your cervix examined: if it is too dilated, then stitches can be applied during pregnancy to keep it tight.
- Scarring. The uterus lining – endometrium – is very sensitive, and during a surgical abortion it can remain damaged. Endometrium usually heals on its own, but sometimes scar tissue can form, making pregnancy difficult. You will need to be examined with a small telecamera (hysteroscopy); if scar tissue is found, it can be removed surgically (more details here).
- Infections. Sometimes an abortion (especially performed illegally) can result in a pelvic inflammation, which occasionally leads to fallopian tubes getting blocked. In this case, a woman will not be able to conceive naturally, unless the tubes are opened; of course, IVF and other options still remain.
Quite often women are eager to try to conceive again immediately after the abortion; indeed, pregnancy can be possible even a week after a termination! However, most doctors advise to wait at least 3 months after a medical abortion and 6 months after a surgical procedure. Why wait so long?
- Body needs to heal. Even if your ovulation goes back to normal, it doesn’t mean your body is ready for a pregnancy: it had to go through contractions, and perhaps the uterus lining was shed. It takes many weeks for you to be well enough physically again.
- Is this guilt? Some women who decide to have an abortion then regret their decision and feel intense guilt. However, the desire to “make things right” and eliminate the guilt by getting pregnant is not a good solution – better talk to a coucellor.
- Check-ups may be needed. If you had to terminate because there was some risk to you or the baby, the issue may persist, and another abortion will be required. You have to have a thorough medical check-up to make sure your next pregnancy is uneventful.
What to do while you wait
Here are a few tips to recover after a termination as soon as possible:
- Avoid sex for two weeks;
- Don’t lift heavy weights of perform hard physical labor for 2 weeks;
- Stick to a healthy diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains;
- Exercise regularly;
- Have frequent sex;
- Buy an ovulation kit to calculate the best days for conception (more info here).
There is nothing particularly difficult about conceiving after an abortion; however, you should follow your physician’s guidelines and take it slow: pregnancy is a life-altering experience, and you should only attempt it when you are sure it’s what you want.
Induced abortion – impact on a subsequent pregnancy in first-time mothers: a registry-based study -Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Management of First Trimester Pregnancy Loss Can Be Safely Moved Into the Office– Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
How long after a miscarriage should women wait before becoming pregnant again? – Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov