Abortion Health Risks & Side-Effects
A surgical abortion is invasive and involves medical instruments. An elective or induced abortion is a common medical procedure for ending a pregnancy. Like all medical procedures, a surgical or medical abortion carries potential side-effects and health risks, and these risks may vary from woman to woman. Abortions performed later in pregnancy carry more medical risk.
Surgical Abortion Risks
Immediate side-effects may include pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a negative reaction to the anesthetic. It is rare for a woman to die during the abortion procedure when performed by a qualified medical professional in early pregnancy. Other short-term problems post-abortion can include:
- Infection: Serious infection occurs in 3% of women and can lead to illness and infertility. As a result, many physicians prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections after every abortion.
- Heavy Bleeding: 1-2% of women will have serious bleeding (more than a normal menstrual period).
- Retained Tissue: If any part of the fetus, placenta, or amnionic sac is left inside the uterus a serious infection can occur, requiring a repeat of the suction abortion procedure.
- Puncture of the uterus: This complication is rare, but requires surgical repair and can be life-threatening.
- Sterility: Impairment to fertility may occur due to an infection, serious bleeding, or damage to the uterus.
Medical Abortion Risks
Medical abortion involves pills, such as mifepristone (also called RU486) and misoprostol. Immediate side-effects may include nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fever and chills. Other short-term problems post-abortion can include:
- Allergic reaction: Some women are allergic to the drugs used in medical abortion and can have a severe reaction.
- Infection: Infection can occur, leading to illness and infertility. On rare occasions, infection can lead to death.
- Prolonged Bleeding: Most women will bleed 9-16 days, and 1 in 12 will bleed 30 days or more.
- Retained Tissue: If any part of the fetus, placenta, or amnionic sac is left inside the uterus a serious infection can occur, requiring a surgical abortion procedure.
- Death: Though it is rare for a woman to die from any abortion, mifepristone abortions seem to be riskier than early surgical abortions, with fatalities at fourteen times the rate of suction-aspiration abortions.