Can having an abortion affect my fertility?

It’s unlikely that having an abortion in the UK will affect your fertility.

However, if you become pregnant in the future, you may have a slightly increased risk of miscarriage (losing the pregnancy) or the baby being born early.

Complications of an abortion

In the UK, most women who have an abortion don’t have any complications and their fertility isn’t affected.

However, a small number of women (see below) have complications, such as:

Complications such as these can affect fertility.

Infection after an abortion

Taking antibiotics before an abortion may reduce your risk of infection. The healthcare professionals treating you will provide advice about taking antibiotics. 

Most infections are easy to treat. However, an infection, such as PID, that’s not treated could lead to a more severe infection of your reproductive organs. This can cause infertility or an ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb).

Damage to the womb during an abortion

The risk of damage to the womb during an abortion is low in the UK:

  • damage to the cervix (the neck of the womb) occurs in less than 10 in every 1,000 abortions 
  • damage to the womb occurs in less than 1 in 1,000 medical abortions carried out at 12-24 weeks, and up to 4 in every 1,000 surgical abortions

A medical abortion involves taking medication that causes you to have a miscarriage. A surgical abortion is a procedure to remove the foetus from the womb. Read information about how abortions are performed.

Damage to the cervix can make it weaker. If the cervix can’t stay tightly closed in a future pregnancy (cervical incompetence), this can increase the risk of miscarriage. However, cervical incompetence can be treated with an operation to put a small stitch of strong thread around your cervix to keep it closed.

If the womb is damaged during an abortion, it can cause scarring of the womb. It may be possible to remove the scarring with an operation.

After an abortion

If you have an abortion, the healthcare professionals treating you should tell you how much bleeding to expect. They may also give you a follow-up appointment to see someone within two weeks and a telephone number to call if you have any problems or need advice. 

When to seek medical attention

You should seek medical help as soon as possible if you have:

  • pain in your lower stomach that doesn’t get better with pain relief medication
  • heavy bleeding  
  • a high temperature

Read the answers to more questions about women’s health.

Further information:

 

Page last reviewed: 03/03/2014

Next review due: 03/03/2016