First trimester abortion is considered minor surgery. The risk of complications for the woman increases with advance in gestational age.
Below is a description of the risks that have been associated with abortion:
Pelvic Infection: Bacteria (germs) from the vagina or cervix may enter the uterus and cause an infection. Antibiotics may clear up such an infection. In rare cases, a repeat suction, hospitalization or surgery may be needed. Infection rates are less than 1 percent for suction curettage, 1.5 percent for D&E, and 5 percent for labor induction.
Incomplete abortion: Fetal parts or other products of pregnancy may not be completely emptied from the uterus, requiring further medical procedures. Incomplete abortion may result in infection and bleeding. The reported rate of such complications is less than 1 percent after a D&E; whereas, following a labor induction procedure, the rate may be as high as 36 percent.
Blood clots in the uterus: Blood clots that cause severe cramping occur in about 1 percent of all abortions. The clots usually are removed by a repeat suction curettage.
Heavy bleeding: Some amount of bleeding is common following an abortion. Heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging) is not common and may be treated by repeat suction, medication or, rarely, surgery. Ask the doctor to explain heavy bleeding and what to do if it occurs.
Cut or torn cervix: The opening of the uterus may be torn while it is being stretched open to allow medical instruments to pass through and into the uterus. This happens in less than 1percent of first trimester abortions.
Perforation of the uterus wall: A medical instrument may go through the wall of the uterus. The reported rate is 1 out of every 500 abortions. Depending on the severity, perforation can lead to infection, heavy bleeding or both. Surgery may be required to repair the uterine tissue, and in the most severe cases hysterectomy may be required.
Anesthesia-related complications: As with other surgical procedures, anesthesia increases the risk of complications associated with abortion. The reported risks of anesthesia-related complications is around 1 per 5,000 abortions.
Rh Immune Globulin Therapy: Genetic material found on the surface of red blood cells is known as the Rh Factor. If a woman and her fetus have different Rh factors, she must receive medication to prevent the development of antibodies that would endanger future pregnancies.LONG-TERM MEDICAL RISKS
Future childbearing: Early abortions that are not complicated by infection do not cause infertility or make it more difficult to carry a later pregnancy to term. Complications associated with an abortion or having many abortions may make it difficult to have children.
Because every person is different, one woman’s emotional reaction to an abortion may be different from another’s. After an abortion, a woman may have both positive and negative feelings, even at the same time. One woman may feel relief, both that the procedure is over and that she is no longer pregnant. Another woman may feel sad that she was in a position where all of her choices were hard ones. She may feel sad about ending the pregnancy. For a while after the abortion she also may feel a sense of emptiness or guilt, wondering whether or not her decision was right.
Some women who describe these feelings find they go away with time. Others find them more difficult to overcome. Certain factors can increase the chance that a woman may have a difficult adjustment to an abortion. One of these is not having any counseling before consenting to an abortion. When help and support from family and friends are not available, a woman’s adjustment to the decision may be more of a problem. Other reasons why a woman’s long-term response to an abortion can be poor may be related to past events in her life. For example, negative feelings could last longer if she has not had much practice making major life decisions or already has serious emotional problems. Talking with a professional and objective counselor can help a woman to consider her decision fully before she takes any action.