Abortion Risks and Side Effects

We inform, you decide.

Before you have any elective procedure it’s important to know the potential impacts it could have on your body and future health. Here we’ve compiled the latest research on the impacts of abortion.

Risks and side effects vary by the type of procedure and how far along you are. If you’re pregnant, CompassCare can help you determine exactly what kind of abortion procedure you could be eligible for, and discuss the specific risks and side effects associated with that procedure. To learn more, schedule a free pre-termination evaluation at CompassCare today.

Common Side Effects

Most women experience some of the following after an abortion:

  • Bleeding – on average bleeding lasts 14 days, but can last as long as 21 days.1,2
  • Cramping
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea/Vomiting

These symptoms typically resolve within a week, sometimes longer.

Immediate Complications

  • Damage to the womb or cervix
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Incomplete abortion, requiring a (additional) surgical abortion procedure
  • Infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes
  • Scarring of the inside of the uterus
  • Sepsis or Septic shock
  • Uterine perforation 
  • Death

Future Health Risks

Future Pre-term Deliveries

  • Abortion causes a weakening of the cervix, which increases a woman’s risk of future pre-term deliveries. Two recently-published studies indicate that one induced abortion increases the risk of a subsequent preterm birth by between 25% and 27%. After two or more abortions a woman’s risk of preterm birth increases by between 51% and 62%.3,4
  • A 2013 Canadian study found that women who have had  abortions are more than twice as likely to have a very early preterm child (26 weeks gestation). The risks were 71% higher at 28 weeks gestation and 45% higher at 32 weeks.5
  • Premature births carry serious health risks for the baby. Infants who are born before 37 weeks gestational age have a much lower chance of living to adulthood.6 Those that do survive have significant risk of serious disabilities, including cerebral palsy, intellectual impairment, psychological development disorders and autism.7,8,9

Breast Cancer

  • Studies show that abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. A 2013 analysis revealed a 44% increased risk of breast cancer among females who had at least one induced abortion. The relative risk increased to 76% and 89% for those who had at least two or three abortions, respectively.10
  • Often women considering abortion are experiencing their first pregnancy. It is important to note the protective effects of a woman’s first full-term pregnancy, which causes breast cells to mature, reducing the risk of breast cancer. “Among women who have given birth, an increasing number of full-term pregnancies was associated with a statistically significant decrease in the risk of breast cancer; risk was reduced by 14% for each additional birth.”11

STDs & Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

  • “The presence of Chlamydia in the cervical canal at the time of abortion in asymptomatic women increases the risk of postabortal PID.”12
  • Of patients who have a Chlamydia infection at the time of abortion, 23% will develop PID within 4 weeks.13,14,15,16
  • “PID can lead to serious consequences including infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube or elsewhere outside of the womb), abscess formation, and chronic pelvic pain.”17

Mental Health

  • Research suggests that women who have had abortions may be at increased risk for mental health problems.18
  • “Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion.”19
  • Some women who have experienced an abortion report symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.20 Some of those symptoms may include:
    • Regret
    • Grief
    • Sadness/Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Guilt/Shame
    • Suicidal thoughts

 If you have had an abortion and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important for your emotional and physical health that you not ignore them. Contact us for a referral to a licensed counselor.

 


  1. Davis A, Westhoff C, De Nonno L (2000). Bleeding patterns after early abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol or manual vacuum aspiration. J Am Med Womens Assoc 55(3 Suppl):141-4 

  2. Harwood B, Meckstroth KR, Mishell Dr, Jain JK (2001). Serum beta-human chorionic gonadotropin levels and endometrial thickness after medical abortion. Contraception 63(4):255-6. 

  3. Shah PS, Zoa J (2009). Induced termination of pregnancy and low birth weight and preterm birth: A systematic review and meta-analyses. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 116(11): 1425-42 

  4. Swingle HM, Colaizy TT, Zimmerman MB, Morriss FH (2009). Abortion and the risk of subsequent preterm birth. J Reprod Med, 54(2): 95-108. 

  5. Hardy G, Benjamin A, Abenhaim HA (2013). Effect of induced abortions on early preterm births and adverse perinatal outcomes. JOGC, 35(2): 138-43. 

  6. Moster D, Lie RT, Markestad T (2008). Long-term medical and social consequences of preterm birth. NEJM, 359(3): 262-73. 

  7. Ibid. 

  8. Limperopoulos C, Bassan H, Sullivan NR, Soul JS, Robertson RL, Moore M, Ringer SA, Volpe JJ, du Plessis AJ (2008). Positive screening for autism in ex-preterm infants: Prevalence and risk factors. Pediatrics, 121(4): 758-65 

  9. Burd L, Severud R, Kerbeshian J, Klug MG (1999). Prenatal and perinatal risk factors for Autism. J Perinat Med, 27(6): 441-50. 

  10. Huang Y, Zhang X, Li W, Song F, Dai H, Wang J, Gao Y, Liu X, Chen C, Yan Y, Wang Y, Chen K (2014). “A meta-analysis of the association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females.” Cancer Cause Control, 25(2): 227-36. 

  11. Andrieu N, Goldgar DE, Easton DF, Rookus M, Brohet R, Antoniou AC, et al. (2006). Pregnancies, breast-feeding, and breast cancer risk in the international BRACA1/2 carrier cohort study. J Natl Cancer Inst, 98(8): 535-44. 

  12. Westergaard L, Phillipsen T, Scheibel  J (1982). Significance of cervical Chlamydia trachomatis infection in postabortal pelvic inflammatory disease. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 68(5): 668-90. 

  13. Ovigstad E, et al. (1983). Pelvic inflammatory disease associated with Chlamydia trachomatis infection after therapeutic abortion. Br J Vener Dis, 59: 189-92 

  14. Duthie SJ, et al. (1987). Morbidity after termination of pregnancy in first trimester. Genitourin Med, 63(3): 182-7 

  15. Stray-Pedersen B, et al. (1991). Induced abortion: Microbiological screening and medical complications. Infection 19(5): 305-8 

  16. Heisterberg L, et al. (1987). The role of vaginal secretory immunoglobulin a, gardnerella vaginalis, anaerobes, and Chlamydia trachomatis in post abortal pelvic inflammatory disease. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 66(2): 99-102. 

  17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014).  Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – CDC fact sheet. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/std/PID/STDFact-PID.htm 

  18. Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Ridder E (2006). Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. J Child Psychol Psyc 47(1):16-24. 

  19. Coleman, PK (2011). “Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009.” Br J Psych, 199: 180-6. 

  20. Coyle CT, Coleman PK, Rue VM (2010). Inadequate preabortion counseling and decision conflict as predictors of subsequent relationship difficulties and psychological stress in men and women. Traumatology 16(1):16-30.