Because of the political climate surrounding abortion laws, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the finer points of what it actually means to have an abortion. One prevailing myth that you might have grown up hearing is that having an abortion can affect your future fertility. But despite what you may have heard, there have been no studies that show having an abortion, whether it is a surgical or medical abortion, will negatively affect your chances of getting pregnant later on in life.
HelloGiggles spoke with Dr. Jennifer Wider, OB-GYN and women’s health expert, who confirms this is true. However, she says this “relies on the fact that the abortion is done in a safe, regulated healthcare setting by a qualified medical provider.”
Currently, there are various types of surgical abortions that doctors use depending on the stage of pregnancy that the woman is in. But each kind involves inserting an instrument into the cervix through the vaginal canal. “With any procedure, there is always a risk involved,” Dr. Wider tells HG. “In very rare circumstances, an abortion can cause damage to the cervix or uterus.”
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That risk of damaging the cervix or uterus can go up if a woman gets multiple surgical abortions, since there’s a likelihood of scarring, but this is only a risk if you have many surgical abortions, and it’s also a risk that women who have multiple C-sections face.
“There are a few studies that show repeat surgical abortion could potentially increase the risk abnormal implantation of the placenta. Another study shows that the risk of postpartum hemorrhage may increase after repeat dilation and curettage procedures. These risks are rare,” Dr. Wider says.
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But overall, having an abortion for whatever reason you choose to have it doesn’t mean that a woman can’t get pregnant later in life, if or when she’s ready to have a child.
When it comes to medical abortions, in which a woman can take a pill administered by a doctor, there are no side effects that could affect fertility later on in life either. Although Plan B isn’t a form of abortion (it just decreases the risk of pregnancy in the first 120 hours after intercourse) and shouldn’t be used as a form of birth control, Plan B also has no proven adverse effect on a woman’s future fertility.
Which is exactly why it’s important that women have access to the “morning after pill” and safe abortions, medical or surgical. When states take away access to abortion, many women will go to great lengths to terminate a pregnancy, and the results of that can have an affect on their overall health.
For example, in 2015, Anna Yocca, 31, of Tennessee didn’t have access to a clinic that could offer termination of pregnancy. As a result, she unraveled a wire hanger in an attempt to induce a miscarriage in her bathtub. She ended up failing and giving birth to a premature son instead, who suffered medical and health problems because of the damage done by the wire. Yocca is being charged with murder.
This is a tragic situation that no woman or child should ever have to be in, which is why access to safe abortion is so important for women everywhere. Anti-choice activists have perpetuated the myth that abortion affects fertility, along with telling women that there are other serious health risks that come with having an abortion.
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In Texas, for instance, women are forced to read a pamphlet linking abortion and breast cancer, though all the studies showing a correlation have been debunked. Likewise, there is often talk of women having mental health issues after having an abortion. But just like fertility and breast cancer, research shows that abortion doesn’t make women depressed either.
Deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy is a big and serious decision and anyone considering one should talk to their provider about their concerns. But women can rest easy when it comes to fears about their fertility and having an abortion. As long as abortion remains legal and safe going forward, a woman’s future fertility will most likely not be affected whatsoever.