Tools and Resources

Abortion: Does it affect subsequent pregnancies?

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

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.

Updated: 8/6/2011

© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to content provided to this site by MayoClinic.com/Mayo Clinic Health Information. Use thereof signifies your agreement to these terms of use.