Abortion and the Increased Risk of a Future Miscarriage

Doctor and patient reviewing medical record in clinic lobby
Elective abortion and miscarriage risk. Caiaimage/Rafal Rodzoch / Getty Images

Anything related to elective abortion tends to inspire heated debate, and as of June 24, 2022 the U.S. Supreme Court handed the legality of abortion back to individual states. Still, there are a lot of myths and half-truths about how abortion affects physical and mental health. So, is it true that elective abortion increases the risk of miscarriage in a subsequent pregnancy? The short answer is no. However, this answer requires some clarification.

Abortion and Future Miscarriage

Some women undergo surgical abortion via D&C, a procedure to suction uterine contents. Women who suffer infection, hemmorhage, or uterine damage after surgical abortion might be at higher risk for subsequent fertility issues, including miscarriage. Ashermans syndrome, or scarring in the uterus, can result from overzealous curettage.

In other cases, women may opt for medical termination, which carries a low risk (albeit risk nonetheless) for excessive bleeding and the need for surgical intervention. One large study in the New England Journal of Medicine examined 11,800 women who had undergone a first-trimester miscarriage.

The study found that medically induced abortions did not cause an increase in the risk of future miscarriage or other pregnancy complications like ectopic pregnancy, preterm birth, or low birth weight.

Other Considerations

While emotional scarring after elective termination should not be underestimated, it is not a direct cause for subsequent miscarriage. If you are concerned, your best bet is to discuss the matter with your doctor. Here are some things to keep in mind depending on the specifics of your concern:

  • If you have had an elective abortion in the past and are worried about the risk of miscarriage in a future pregnancy, keep in mind the risk of association is minimal.
  • If you have had a miscarriage after a previous elective termination, and you are wondering whether there is a link, it's likely that they were not related.
  • If you are currently considering an elective abortion in an unwanted pregnancy, but you are worried about the ramifications for your future health, talk to your doctor about the least risky option and about what you can do to avoid the need for another elective abortion.
1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Virk J, Zhang J, Olsen J. Medical abortion and the risk of subsequent adverse pregnancy outcomes. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(7):648-53. doi:10.1056/nejmoa070445

Additional Reading

By Krissi Danielsson
Krissi Danielsson, MD is a doctor of family medicine and an advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage.