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Complications

By and large, abortion is a safe procedure and is carried out at our clinics with the greatest possible care. The risk of problems or complications during and after treatment is remote. If serious complications do arise, we receive immediate hospital support, for which our clinics have partnership agreements with nearby hospitals.
Possible complications (˂ 0.2%) or problems after the treatment:

  • Protracted bleeding in the period after the treatment
  • Excessive bleeding or damage of the uterus during the treatment
  • Infection
  • A positive pregnancy test at the follow-up appointment

Protracted bleeding in the period after the treatment

Protracted or heavy bleeding in the period following the abortion is usually caused by pregnancy tissue left in the uterus after the treatment or abortion pill. If the residual tissue is not passed naturally, a follow-up treatment may be needed to remove these last bits of tissue. The doctor will decide whether additional medication or a new curettage is required.

Excessive bleeding or damage of the uterus during the treatment

In rare cases (< 0.2%), during or immediately after the day treatment of second trimester pregnancies (from 13 weeks) there is excessive bleeding. This may be due to damage of the uterus or blood coagulation issues. Sometimes additional hospital treatment is required.

Infection

The abortion treatment is carried out hygienically, which means that risk of infection is very small. As extra precaution to prevent infection, you will be given antibiotics.

A fever (over 38.5°C), which lasts more than a day, and abdominal pain after treatment can be possible signs of an infection. If this happens to you, please contact our clinic or your GP as soon as possible.

To prevent infection, you should not insert anything into your vagina for two weeks. This means:

  • no tampons
  • no sexual intercourse
  • no swimming or bathing (taking a shower is fine)
  • no vaginal douche

Positive pregnancy test at the follow-up appointment

A positive pregnancy test is usually caused by a fragment of pregnancy tissue left in the uterus after the abortion treatment. Only in rare cases is there an uninterrupted pregnancy. The chance of residual tissue after the abortion pill is approximately 5-6%. The chance of residual tissue after suction curettage is approximately 1-2%. If this happens to you, the doctor will decide, in consultation with you, if additional medication or curettage is required.

Can an abortion make me infertile?
There is no scientific proof for diminished fertility after an abortion. Uterine adhesions after an abortion are also rare. Infertility is usually caused by an infection, as in the period following an abortion, miscarriage or birth you are more prone to infection in your uterus. To prevent infection, you are given antibiotics at the clinic after you had your day treatment.

I have had an abortion before. Is that a problem?

A previous abortion poses no physical objections for the treatment.

Can an abortion make me infertile?

This complication is extremely rare. If it occurs, it’s usually due to infection. To prevent infection, you are given antibiotics at the clinic. There is no scientific proof for diminished fertility after an abortion.

Reasons why women don’t get pregnant after an abortion:

  • Increasing age associated with declining fertility
  • Latent chlamydia infection
What is the probability that the treatment will fail?

It sometimes happens that the pregnancy is not terminated after the abortion. With the abortion pill this is 1 - 4%, with other abortion methods this is 1 - 2 %. If this happens, we need to perform a (second) suction curettage.

There is also a slight risk of persistent bleeding or severe discharge. This usually occurs when there is some organic tissue left in the uterus after the abortion. If the tissue is not passed naturally, a follow-up treatment is needed to remove these last bits of tissue.

Our clinic has a partnership agreement with a nearby hospital, where medical support can be provided, if necessary.

What is the probability of infection after a day treatment in the clinic?

The chance of infection after an abortion is extremely remote. As an extra precaution to prevent infection, you will be given antibiotics in the clinic after treatment.

Because of risk of infection after the abortion, please follow this advice:

  • For the first two weeks, do not use any tampons.
  • For the first two weeks, do not have sexual intercourse.
  • For the first two weeks, do not take a bath or go swimming; a shower is allowed.

A fever (over 38.5°C), which lasts more than a day, AND stomach pain after treatment can be possible signs of an infection. If this happens to you, please contact us or your GP as soon as possible.

How likely is a bad experience with the abortion pill?

The risk of complications with the abortion pill is slim. The main complication is bleeding without actual termination of the pregnancy. That is why there is a follow-up 4 weeks after the termination. After 4 weeks, you can also take a pregnancy test yourself

For some women, the abortion pill is a painful and emotional experience. The abortion pill causes abdominal cramps that can last for hours. These abdominal cramps are comparable to severe menstrual cramps. Other possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, chills and diarrhoea. In combination with (sometimes heavy) bleeding, the amniotic sac is being rejected by the body.

How long does the pain last?
In the beginning, the pain can be severe and bleeding can continue for two weeks, comparable to menstrual bleeding. Make sure you have stocked up on painkillers, e.g. Ibuprofen or Aleve, also in suppository form in case you feel nauseous and won’t be able to keep the painkillers in your stomach due to vomiting.

Is it normal to develop a fever when taking the abortion pill?
A slight temperature is normal. If your temperature is over 38.5 C, please contact us.  

Are there any risks of the abortion pill?

There is a remote chance (1-4%) that the abortion pill will not work effectively and the pregnancy has not ended. This means you would still need suction curettage. There is a minor risk of infection.

Can an abortion cause uterine adhesions?

There has been a lot of research into uterine adhesions after suction curettage. Much of this research focused on women who underwent suction curettage with methods completely different to the methods we use. Suction curettage of an intact pregnancy (not a miscarriage), with preparation of the cervix with medication and antibiotics afterwards, has negligible risk of adhesions: approximately 1 in 1500. As a matter of fact, adhesions do not necessarily affect fertility.