Is abortion safe? If you’re experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and considering abortion, “Is abortion safe?” is one of the first, and perhaps most critical, of the questions you are probably asking. In an upcoming blog, we will be addressing the safety of medication abortion (the abortion pill). In this initial article, we will be focusing on surgical abortion.
Beyond your concern about the safety of abortion, we hope you’ll be thinking about many other questions regarding your pregnancy options. Avenue Women’s Center is prepared to assist you with answers and information you’ll want to research as you navigate the choices before you. Avenue Women’s Center is the first-step for women in DuPage County and near-by communities who are faced with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. As a non-profit, limited women’s medical clinic, we are able to offer many services free of charge to you at one of our five area locations. Contact us today to schedule your confidential consultation. Please read on to learn more about our services and our commitment to you at this difficult time.
How Risky is Surgical Abortion?
Most sources agree that surgical abortion carries minimal physical risk. The most common types of surgical abortion are suction curettage, performed during the first 6 to 16 weeks of pregnancy, and dilation & curettage (D & C), which is performed after 16 weeks gestation. According to Mayo Clinic, “Dilation and curettage is usually very safe, and complications are rare.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states: “Abortion is a low-risk procedure. Major complications that require hospitalization are rare.”
As with any medical procedure, however, some degree of risk remains. It’s the responsibility of health care providers to address those risks. Common physical side effects of abortion may vary from one woman to another, but some level of stomach pain or cramping and bleeding or spotting should be typically expected.
Rare, but potentially serious, immediate physical complications may include:
- perforation of the uterus made by the instruments used in a surgical abortion
- excessive and dangerous bleeding
- cervical damage
- scarring of the uterine wall
The risk of any of these conditions increases with the length of the pregnancy at the time of the abortion procedure. Your doctor should give you instructions as to when a symptom is serious enough to require further medical attention.
Some women have concerns about the impact of abortion farther down the road. For example, is it more likely after an abortion to have problems in a subsequent pregnancy? Research suggests that in the rare case of uterine scarring, it may be more difficult to become pregnant again. Mayo Clinic, makes this statement: “Generally, elective abortion isn’t thought to cause fertility issues or complications in future pregnancies.” Some studies suggest, however, there may be a possible link between pregnancy termination and an increased risk of premature birth and low birth weight in future pregnancies.
What about emotional risks?
Questions have been raised by some about potential long-term stress or anxiety. Although studies have been done on post-abortion emotional responses, there have not been conclusive findings. This especially is an area where outcomes could be expected to vary greatly from one woman to another. Depending on their individual circumstances, belief systems, and other factors, some will be more profoundly affected by feelings of guilt, regret, shame, or other strong emotions. Emotional reactions may be experienced shortly after the abortion, or they may surface much later. This is a particularly good example of why it’s important for any woman to explore carefully the deeper aspects of abortion safety for herself and her own experience, prior to having a procedure.
As you can tell, the question of “is abortion safe?” is not easily answered. That is why Avenue Women’s Center is here to help. Our caring client advocates provide nonjudgmental support and information tailored to assist you through the decision-making process. Call, text, chat or email us today to schedule your free private consultation in one of our five DuPage County locations. We look forward to hearing from you.
- Mayo Clinic. (2016, October.) Dilation and Curettage. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/dilation-and-curettage/about/pac-20384910
- Mayo Clinic. (2017, July). Getting Pregnant. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/abortion/faq-20058551
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2015, May) Induced Abortion. Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Induced-Abortion
- American Pregnancy Association. (2017, January). Surgical Abortion Procedures. Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/surgical-abortions/
- American Pregnancy Association. (2016, September). Possible Physical Side Effects after Abortion. Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/abortion-side-effects/
- WebMD. (2005 December). Abortion Impact: Long-Term Stress? Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20051212/abortion-impact-long-term-stress#1
- HealthLine. Surgical Abortion. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/surgical-abortion#recovery
- MedLinePlus. (2016, October). Abortion – surgical, MedLine Plus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002912.htm
Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.