What happens to your body when you end a pregnancy?

Q: What are the side effects of abortions, including the long-term effects like ability to get pregnant? Also, can abortions cause uterine cancer?

A: Abortions are not associated with any known long-term health risks. For a while, some anti-abortion groups were claiming that women who had had abortions had an increased risk of breast cancer, but there is no data supporting their claim.

The complications from an abortion are primarily bleeding and infection. However, the risks are quite small, and significantly less than those associated with delivering a baby.  There is a very small risk of poking a hole through the wall of the uterus at the time of an abortion, but that is also quite rare. And there should be no long-term negative effects on either conceiving or carrying a pregnancy.

Of course, there are psychological issues involved in terminating a pregnancy. Patients should think of how they will feel if they terminate, and then to consider how they will feel if they carry the pregnancy, and how it will affect their lives and their families’ lives. It is always a difficult decision – no physician likes to do abortions. However, we realize that no contraception is perfect, and that contraceptive failures do occur.

I would strongly encourage couples who do not want to be pregnant to use good contraception, so that they will not be forced to make these difficult emotional decisions.

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