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Can you get pregnant again after having an abortion?

The science on fertility and abortion is clear: Having an abortion does not make it harder to get pregnant in the future.

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There are many reasons why someone decides to have an abortion, and every reason is valid. You may not want to have a child, the timing for another child may not be right, or something else—the list goes on. But having an abortion doesn't necessarily reflect someone’s desire to have a child at some point in the future. In fact, research from the National Abortion Federation reports that 66% of people who have abortions want children later on.

For someone who is wondering whether having an abortion could cause future infertility, decades of research demonstrate that having an abortion does not make it harder to get pregnant later. There is no evidence that an abortion impacts future fertility.

Keep reading for more on what the science says about abortion and fertility.

Are abortions safe?

Yes, abortions are extremely safe. They’re one of the safest and most common forms of gynecological care and substantially safer than pregnancy and birth

In-clinic abortion procedures and medication abortions have very low rates of complications. The most common abortion procedure is vacuum aspiration, where gentle suction is used to remove pregnancy tissue from the uterus. In a 2015 study, major adverse events occurred only .16% of the time after a vacuum aspiration, and 0.41% after later abortion procedures. 

Medication abortions typically use two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, to block the hormone that supports a growing pregnancy (progesterone) and empty pregnancy tissue from the uterus. The process is similar to a miscarriage.

One 2021 study reported “major” complication rates (e.g., required hospitalization, surgery, blood transfusion) as low as 0.03% for medication abortion. Medication abortions have an even lower rate of complications than commonly used drugs like Tylenol or Viagra. 

Hey Jane is a telemedicine abortion provider that supports pregnant people through 10 weeks of pregnancy. Research shows that telemedicine medication abortions are just as safe and effective as in-person care, and a clinical white paper found that Hey Jane's innovative care model is incredibly safe and effective. Our team of compassionate clinicians will guide you through the process and are available to help with any questions or concerns. Patients can also lean on peer support from other folks who are going through the process in the Hey Jane Lounge.

Does having an abortion make it harder to get pregnant in the future?

No. The leading body of OB-GYNs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), is very clear: Abortions don’t increase the risk of future infertility. And in 2018, after combing through all of the relevant research published after the year 2000, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) panel affirmed ACOG’s stance.

Let’s look at one very large, high-quality study from that review: The panel found a 2016 study that compared data from the Finnish National Birth Registry (2008-2010) to data from the Induced Abortion Registry (1983-2007). Among the follow-up visits of 5,167 eligible people who had past abortions, the researchers found no demonstrated connection between abortion and “secondary infertility” (which means the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after previously conceiving and/or giving birth).

The only situations in which fertility issues could arise after an abortion are if there are complications, which are extremely rare. Abortion procedures that were used more frequently in the past, such as dilation and curettage (D&C), were more likely to cause complications like adhesions in the uterus. Since the 1970s vacuum aspiration, which is much gentler than sharp curettage, has mostly replaced D&C as an abortion procedure.

Although medication abortion is extremely safe, ACOG recommends people who’ve had abortions talk to their care provider if they experience severe pain that does not respond to pain medication, soak two pads an hour for at least two hours, or have foul-smelling discharge or a fever 24 hours after taking misoprostol to ensure that they do not require additional medical care.

Does the type of abortion impact fertility?

No. In-clinic procedures and medication abortions both have extremely low rates of complications. (Same goes for medication abortion administered in-person versus via telemedicine care.) Neither has a demonstrated impact on future fertility.

What abortion does tell us about fertility is that you can get pregnant! If down the road, you are trying to get pregnant with a different partner and are having a hard time, the fact that you have been pregnant before is a good sign that you could get pregnant again.

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Meet Hey Jane: modern, virtual abortion care

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Is it safe to have more than one abortion (2, 3, 4, or 5+ abortions)?

Having more than one abortion is still very safe. The rate of major complications are very low—and they don’t rise simply because you’ve had two or more abortions.

There is also no evidence that having more than one abortion impacts the ability to get pregnant in the future. Regardless of the number of abortions you’ve had, getting pregnant again is possible very soon after an abortion.

Can multiple abortions lead to mental health problems?

There is no evidence that abortions cause depression or other mental health concerns—no matter how many abortions someone may have had.

Abortions, however, can bring up difficult emotions for some people—something that hormonal changes can intensify. While all feelings after abortions are valid, the one most commonly reported in the research is relief.

Depending on your personal, geographic, and financial circumstances, accessing abortion care may be a stressful process. It’s important to never judge yourself for what you’re feeling—and to understand that, whatever you’re feeling, it’s normal. Take care of yourself, show yourself compassion, and know that there are many resources that can help you move through difficult emotions after abortions. You’re not alone in this.

How soon after an abortion can you get pregnant?

You can get pregnant almost immediately after having an abortion—even if you’re still bleeding from the procedure or haven’t yet had your period. If you recently had an abortion and do not want to get pregnant again immediately, Hey Jane's clinical care team can talk you through your birth control options and help you find the best option for you, your body, and your needs.

How many days after an abortion do you ovulate?

Before an abortion, ovulation will have stopped due to pregnancy. However, after an abortion, most people will have a normal period within 3 to 8 weeks. People ovulate about 2 weeks before their missed period, which means it is possible to get pregnant as early as seven days after an abortion. 

How do I know if I’m ovulating after an abortion? 

To determine if you're ovulating after an abortion, monitor signs like clear, stretchy cervical mucus and a slight rise in basal body temperature. Ovulation predictor kits that detect luteinizing hormone surges can also help.Consult your health care provider for more guidance.

How do I balance hormones after an abortion?

Balancing hormones after an abortion involves taking care of yourself as best you can. That includes stress management and getting enough quality sleep when you’re able to. Increasing your intake of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids may help. Remember that everyone’s body is different, and that your return to “normal” may look different than another person’s. Our providers can provide personalized advice on abortion aftercare—just message us!

How long after an abortion should someone wait before trying to get pregnant?

The answer to this question is really up to the individual. For most people, going back to any regular activity, sex included, is fine as long as the person feels up to it physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Does time between abortions matter?

While experts recommend spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart when planning for childbirth, the same is not true of abortions. Having a medication abortion is approximately 4 times safer than childbirth (and at Hey Jane, our safety record is even better). It’s safe to have as many abortions as you need, when you need them, to meet your fertility goals. 

I've had multiple abortions (2, 3, 4, or 5+ abortions), can I still get pregnant?

There is no evidence that the number of abortions you've had have any impact on your ability to get pregnant again in the future.

What if someone’s having trouble getting pregnant after an abortion?

Any challenges with getting pregnant after an abortion are extremely unlikely to be related to the abortion itself (unless a rare complication has occurred). 

In general, experts recommend reaching out to a fertility specialist to investigate what’s happening if someone’s under 35 and has been trying to get pregnant for more than 12 months through penis-in-vagina, or six months if they’re over 35. Anyone who has irregular periods, a condition that impacts fertility (e.g., polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid disorders), or who knows they’ll be using fertility treatment (including people in same-sex relationships who want to have biological children or people who want to have biological children on their own) can reach out to a specialist before trying to get pregnant. There are no hard and fast rules. If you have a concern about your fertility, reach out to a trusted provider to be evaluated. Knowing your reproductive and current fertility (even if you are under 35) is part of having a reproductive life plan.

Have more questions about medication abortion? Hey Jane’s here to help—check out our FAQs or begin your consult. We’re here to support you.

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Written by

Sarah duRivage-Jacobs (MPH)

Sarah duRivage-Jacobs is a New York-based writer and editor of words dealing with reproductive health and abortion access. She received her Masters of Public Health degree in Community Health.

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