Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Had An Abortion, Can I Still Have A Baby?

Dear Dr. Kate,

When I was 15 I had an abortion. I am now 23 and I am considering having a baby. I am worried, however--I have heard that when you have an abortion it risks future pregnancies. I have always wanted a baby, and I couldn't imagine life without having my own children...but when I was so young I was in no way ready at that point to have one. My questions are: Is there a chance that I won't be able to get pregnant in the future because of my abortion? And how can I tell if I will be able to have a child? I mean, is there a way for me to assure myself that I will be able to reproduce?

The Worrier

Dear Worrier,

You're not alone, in either having had an abortion or being worried about future pregnancies. Abortion is incredibly common in the U.S.--more than 1 in 3 women will have one. So let me reassure you--having an uncomplicated abortion does not impact your fertility. You will be able to get pregnant, carry a pregnancy, and have a baby, in the same way as if you had never been pregnant. Fertility is affected by many things, of course--an untreated STD can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and scarring of your fallopian tubes. And it gets harder to get pregnant as you get older, especially over the age of 35. But the abortion itself doesn't affect your chances. (What do I mean by "uncomplicated"? If you didn't have a massive infection that required hospitalization and/or additional surgery afterwards.)

Going on-line for information about abortion is quite tricky--many sites are set up to look educational, but are full of misinformation. Planned Parenthood is an excellent resource for information. So keep yourself healthy and continue to use birth control until you're ready to become a parent--that day will come, and your body will be ready.

Have any of you heard that abortion can lead to infertility?


SunshineMaisie said...

Growing up in Southwestern VA we were told by a variety of people, largely in the faith based community, that an abortion ruin your uterus. My mother (a life long teacher) set us straight, and did so everytime we were misinformed.

A childhood friend, however, believes to this day that an abortion means being barren for life.

J.M. said...

I had an abortion when I was 22. I still consider it the biggest mistake of my life, though the man who was to be the father of my child was emotionally abusive (rarely physically), a cheater and threatened me into getting one. I was scared...I was naive.

I am now 28 years old. Since the abortion I have had at least three different boyfriends before finding the love of my life and my best friend. But with all of the past relationships and my present one, I have never been careful. I've never taken birth control or used protection. I have had regular yearlies and check-ups and I am afraid that I now can not have children. Are my fears unwarranted? It just seems too likely. I'm so sad that I've finally met the man I want to spend the rest of my life with (will be a 2 years in Sept.) and we won't be able to start a family together?

Dr. Kate said...

J.M., I'm so sorry that you went through such an awful time when you were younger...but I'm so glad that you've finally met the right guy now.

I don't think that you're infertile. In truth, there are only a few days a month that you can have sex and get pregnant (the egg just doesn't last that long). So it's just as possible that you've just gotten lucky. Once you start really trying to get pregnant, if nothing happens in six months, talk with your gyno. But if your periods are regular (see my fertility posts), you're very likely to be okay.