Can You Get Pregnant After an Abortion?

pregnant woman holding her belly

When a woman is considering an abortion her first question may be, is pregnancy after an abortion possible?

There are two main reasons to ask this question. First, a woman may be questioning whether she can immediately become pregnant after an abortion experience. She may be concerned that she will put herself through an abortion and find herself in a similar, or even more difficult, situation in a few weeks. Second, a woman may desire children in her future and be concerned that an abortion experience now will make it difficult or impossible to become pregnant later in life.

How Does a Pregnancy Begin?

Positive pregnancy test sits on top of an ultrasound image

In order to achieve pregnancy, a man’s sperm must connect with a woman’s ovum (or egg). When the ovum is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube, this is called ovulation. When the sperm and egg unite, a unique human life begins. Most women will ovulate once a month, often this is about two weeks after the beginning of their period. Then, typically their next period will begin two weeks after their ovulation. If pregnancy occurs, and the embryo implants, she will typically not have her period. This missed period is often the first sign of pregnancy. It’s important for women to have a thorough understanding of how to track their menstrual cycle to make informed choices for their health and their future. 

Can I Get Pregnant Immediately After an Abortion?

If a woman is recovering from delivering a baby, a miscarriage, or an abortion, it is hard to say when she will first ovulate. If a mother is breastfeeding her baby, her return to ovulation may (or may not) be delayed. If she has chosen an abortion or she has miscarried early in her pregnancy, her next ovulation could be very soon, often about three weeks, after the date of the miscarriage/abortion.

Any time a woman has sex, whether or not the sex is unprotected, there is a chance that a pregnancy will occur. If a woman is not ready to be a mother, the safest course of action is to avoid sexual intercourse. By avoiding sexual intercourse a woman avoids not only the risk of pregnancy, but also the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and emotional attachments or complications related to a sexual relationship.

If avoiding sex is not desirable, using contraceptives can reduce the risk of pregnancy. However, no contraceptive completely eliminates the risk of becoming pregnant. The reduction can be significant but it is never absolute.

I Had an Abortion and I’m Getting a Positive Pregnancy Test Result

It is important to realize that what we commonly refer to as a “pregnancy test” is really more of a “pregnancy indicator.” An over-the-counter pregnancy test is testing for the presence of hcg. This hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin, often indicates a woman is pregnant.

However, it is important to realize that there may be other reasons for a positive pregnancy test result.

  1. If you take a pregnancy test shortly after a miscarriage or abortion, your body may still have enough hcg to show a positive result – this could happen for up to six weeks.
  2. If you take a pregnancy test after a miscarriage or abortion, you may have retained tissue inside your uterus or another complication. This complication may be “tricking” your body into continuing to produce hcg and could produce a positive pregnancy test result.
  3. Your abortion may have failed, and your pregnancy may still be progressing.
  4. You may have begun a new pregnancy after a successful abortion.
Woman undergoing an ultrasound at a doctor's office

If you had an abortion and are having any concerning symptoms, including a positive pregnancy test result, it is important to follow up with a medical provider. If you chose to have an abortion at home without any medical oversight, it is important to follow up with a medical provider regardless of your symptoms.

If you believe you have begun a new pregnancy, or your pregnancy is still progressing, you may be concerned about the impact the abortion pills may have had on your unborn child. Receiving prompt medical care, including an ultrasound, can be very reassuring.

If you initially decided to have an abortion and the abortion failed, it’s ok to change your mind and decide to continue with your pregnancy. Obtaining prenatal care, and being honest with your provider, will help you have a healthy pregnancy and set your mind at ease.

If I Have an Abortion, Can I Get Pregnant Later?

In order for a pregnancy to occur many things must happen in the right order. Unfortunately, even with tremendous advances in medicine, many women (and some men) are left struggling with “unexplained infertility.” What this means is that they are unable to conceive, but medical science can’t explain why it’s happening. 

Why is this important to consider when considering abortion? Often, when a woman is considering an abortion she is told by well-meaning friends and family members that “you can have a baby later” or, “there will always be another one.” While it is quite likely that a woman may be able to get pregnant after abortion, it is never a guarantee. When choosing an abortion, it is important to consider whether you would continue with your abortion decision if, for some reason, this is the only time you’re able to have a child.

If you have had an abortion or plan to have an abortion, there is a chance the abortion can affect your future fertility. An abortion that progresses as expected is unlikely to impact future fertility, but if you experience infection, uterine perforation, uterine rupture, or other problems leading to scarring inside your uterus or fallopian tubes it can negatively impact having children in the future. About 10% of abortions will result in complications that could have a negative impact on your future fertility.

I’m Pregnant Again! Now What?

Perhaps you’ve completed your abortion, been examined to show it was successful, and are now experiencing pregnancy symptoms again or getting positive home test results. No matter how you felt about your abortion, you may be reluctant to go through the process again. However, the circumstances that led you to have the abortion may not have changed. There is hope! Please reach out and find a pregnancy center near you. They can help you discuss all of your options and make the right decision.

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