4 Questions About Pregnancy After Abortion, Answered

Does having an abortion curse future plans for a family? Will it affect chances of a healthy pregnancy? Here's everything you need to know about getting pregnant post-abortion.

High Angle View Of Ultrasound Photograph By Pregnancy Test On Table
Photo: Getty Images

After my abortion, I earned an college degree as an All-American Track & Field athlete and traveled to countless new cities, one of which I now call home. I gained invaluable professional experience to further my career. And I married someone who I look forward to parenting with.

I made a decision I'll never regret. I chose my body, my health, my life. And though I wasn't ready to be a mother as a teenager, I now am. According to my doctor, I'm in prime condition to conceive again. But it's normal to wonder how having an abortion might impact future pregnancies.

The good news is we no longer have to question whether or not abortion methods recommended by healthcare professionals are safe. The four forms of abortion are considered safe and effective procedures, according to evidence-based, non-partisan research produced by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. But to learn more about getting pregnant again after having an abortion, I spoke with OB-GYN Shamsah Amersi, M.D.

With over twenty years on the job, Dr. Amersi has delivered more than 10,000 babies. Here, she offers answers to the most common questions that arise when on the path to pregnancy after abortion.

Can You Get Pregnant After an Abortion?

"It's very common for those who've had an abortion in the past to worry that their fertility has been affected or damaged," says Dr. Amersi. But she insists that abortion does not necessarily impact fertility, noting that a medical abortion, i.e. the abortion pill, is preferable over a surgical abortion when it comes to future fertility. That's because surgical abortions can come with a slight increased risk for scarring and tissue damage. However, the risk is small and is more likely to happen with several procedures as opposed to one.

"Sometimes multiple surgical procedures in the uterus can cause scar tissue that can affect future pregnancies and fertility," she explains. This scar tissue is called Asherman's Syndrome, and according to the Cleveland Clinic, it's rare.

Dr. Amersi emphasizes that a single surgical abortion is not a key perpetrator: "If you had one procedure, it's not going to impact you, but if you've had multiple procedures, absolutely."

Is it Hard to Get Pregnant After an Abortion?

Experts agree it's not harder to get pregnant after having an abortion. It's actually a bit more of the opposite: "You now have proven fertility," explains Dr. Amersi. "Now we know you can get pregnant." That said, there's no reason to believe it's easier to get pregnant after an abortion. Everyone is different and while there are many factors to consider when assessing fertility, a prior abortion is not one of them.

How Does Abortion Affect Future Pregnancies?

Abortion does not affect future pregnancy health. Dr. Amersi says when patients who have had an abortion have a miscarriage, they often worry that the two are related. But she assures them it's completely unrelated. "There's no increased risk of miscarriage [post-abortion]," says Dr. Amersi.

Furthermore, if you decide to become pregnant again after having an abortion, you don't have to worry about facing additional side effects. The signs of pregnancy after abortion do not differ from the typical signs of pregnancy.

The Mayo Clinic explains that overall, there is no increased risk of complications in any future pregnancies after an abortion. However, just like with the slight increased risk of scarring with multiple surgical abortions, there is some evidence that multiple surgical abortions may be associated with lower birth weights and higher rates of premature birth, although the link is not completely clear just yet.

How Soon After an Abortion Can You Get Pregnant?

After any type of pregnancy ends, whether it's a miscarriage or termination, Dr. Amersi tells her patients to wait one cycle before they start trying again. She also recognizes that having an abortion is a hard decision for patients to make, and she encourages patients to allow themselves to heal not only physically, but also emotionally before they move forward.

Dr. Amersi assures that psychological distress is a normal part of the healing process. Her advice is for patients to have compassion for themselves—not judge themselves, lean on a friend for support, and consider mental health assistance, like therapy.

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