Side Effects of Abortion

Every medical procedure, including an abortion, has certain side effects. These are both, physical and emotional. Here's a look into the physical and emotional side effects that an abortion results in.
HerHaleness Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Though casually termed as a medical procedure, for a woman, undergoing an abortion to terminate a pregnancy can have a significant effect on her life. These effects are physical as well as emotional. The turmoil of taking such an extreme step cannot be undermined, and if you have decided to go through this procedure for any reason, do consider the different side effects before you take the plunge.

There are two types of abortion - surgical and medical. While the physical side effects of either may vary, the emotional side effects are similar for anyone who has experienced this life-altering procedure.

Side Effects of Surgical Abortion

A surgical abortion involves undergoing a surgical procedure to terminate a pregnancy. After this procedure, a woman is prone to the following side effects:
  • Abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reaction to anesthesia
It is rare, but possible, that certain complications that occur during an abortion may increase the intensity of the side effects of this procedure. Thus, it is essential to be aware of such risks before deciding to undergo the procedure and creating the possibility of enduring them.
  • It is common for bleeding to occur just after abortion. However, in some cases, such as if the cervix is torn, or if the uterus has been punctured, it is possible that heavy bleeding or hemorrhaging may occur. It can get severe to the point where a blood transfusion or surgery may be required to control the situation.
  • Several medical procedures including abortion, require the use of general anesthesia. Its use in different instances has resulted in convulsions, heart attack, and in extremely severe cases, death. Any complication can become further risky by two and a half times with the use of general anesthesia.
  • The insertion of a variety of medical tools during the abortion, in the uterus, can cause an infection of the pelvis, scarring of the pelvic organs, and in extreme cases, a whole body infection known as sepsis. These infections may lead to fever, and several women have lost their lives to sepsis.
  • It is possible that during the procedure, the uterine lining may be permanently scarred.
  • Other internal organs in the areas around the uterus, such as the bowel and the bladder are also at a risk of damage after an abortion.
  • Lastly, though it is very rare, any complication developed due to an abortion can increase to such extremes as to result in death.
Side Effects of Medical Abortion

Medical abortion involves the intake of a pill to induce abortion. Even though it may sound like a simple procedure, it puts a woman at the risk of suffering from the following side effects.
  • Spotting and bleeding
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cramping and diarrhea
Similar to a surgical abortion, a woman may experience some complications in case of a medical abortion too.
  • Though bleeding for about twelve days after a medical abortion is normal, women may experience prolonged bleeding, that lasts beyond thirty days.
  • A medical abortion can lead to an infection in the body, causing illness and infertility, and in very rare cases, may result in death.
  • In certain cases, it is possible that parts of the fetus may have been left behind in the uterus, even after the abortion has been completed. This is known as an incomplete abortion, which may result in an infection and heavy bleeding.
  • Lastly, though it is very rare, any complication developed due to an abortion can increase to such extremes as to result in death.
If you notice other symptoms such as severe pain of the back and the abdomen that restricts your movements, fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, heavy bleeding (that is more than during the normal menstrual cycle), and a foul-smelling discharge, contact your doctor immediately, as these are not normal symptoms and may require immediate medical attention.

Long-Term Side Effects of Having an Abortion

Studies have shown that women who have terminated pregnancies through any of the above-mentioned procedures may be at risk of delivering a premature baby in the future, which may further cause the baby to develop cerebral palsy, respiratory and bowel problems, and conditions of the brain. Another study has established a link between abortion and breast cancer, where women who have undergone an abortion were at a 50% higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Emotional Side Effects of Abortion

While an abortion affects a woman physically, its emotional effects are highly disturbing, as deciding to give up a pregnancy is not an easy task. The guilt, the anger, and the depression, may haunt a woman after undergoing an abortion. Though these side effects are merely termed as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder known as the post-abortion syndrome, only a woman who has been through them really understands how an abortion can wreak emotional havoc. The following emotional side effects may be experienced either immediately or several years after an abortion.
  • Women may develop eating disorders, or may suffer from alcohol and drug abuse, as a response to the depression that occurs after an abortion.
  • In some cases, women may have repeated flashbacks of the entire procedure of abortion, which excessively increases the guilt to the point where women may begin to contemplate suicide, and have a spate of suicidal thoughts.
  • An abortion also affects the relationships that were associated with the unborn child.
  • The emotional stress may also affect a woman's sex life, leading to sexual dysfunction.
Dealing with an abortion is not an easy task, both physically and emotionally. Thus, if you have decided to end your pregnancy and opt for an abortion, pause and understand the real reason for your decision, and whether it is valid enough to make you go through such extreme abortion side effects. The final decision is ultimately yours.

Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.