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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Risks

The risks of a medical abortion include infection, bleeding and incomplete abortion, meaning some of the pregnancy tissue remains. These problems are rare and can be treated. An incomplete abortion is handled by repeating the dose of medication to end the pregnancy or doing a suction D and C. An infection can be treated with antibiotics. Excessive bleeding is treated with medications and possibly dilation and curettage. Rarely, a blood transfusion may be necessary if bleeding is unusually heavy.

The risks of a surgical abortion are quite low. The main risks of D and C and D and E are continued bleeding, infection of the uterus (endometritis), incomplete removal of pregnancy tissue and poking a hole in the womb (perforation of the uterus) during the surgical procedure. A second surgical procedure may be required to remove tissue that was not removed during the first procedure or to repair a perforated uterus.

Women rarely become infertile after an uncomplicated abortion. However, infertility may result when surgical abortion leads to endometritis or is complicated by heavy bleeding, perforation or incomplete removal of pregnancy tissue.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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