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Post Abortion Illness

About 20 per cent of all abortions today are performed on teens. Teenage abortion has been linked to a number of physical and psychological problems, including drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts and suicidal ideation, and other self-destructive behaviors.
Compared to women who abort at an older age, women who abort as teens are significantly more likely to report more severe emotional injuries related to their abortions. This finding is supported by the fact that women who aborted as teens participate in disproportionately large numbers in post-abortion counseling programs.

Types Of Physical Complications

The number and types of physical complications resulting from abortion are as diverse as the various abortion methods. Depending upon the type of abortion performed, physical complications can be as follows:

1. Cervical tearing and laceration from the instruments.
2. Perforation of the uterus by instruments. This may require major surgery, including hysterectomy.
3. Scarring of the uterine lining by suction tubing, curettes, or other instruments.
4. Infection, local and systemic.
5. Hemorrhage and shock, especially if the uterine artery is torn.
6. Anesthesia toxicity from both general or local anesthesia, resulting in possible convulsions, cardiorespiratory arrest, and in extreme cases, death.
7. Retained tissue, indicated by cramping, heavy bleeding, and infection.
8. Postabortal syndrome, referring to an enlarged, tender and soft uterus retaining blood clots.
9. Failure to recognize an ectopic pregnancy. This could lead to the rupture of a fallopian tube, hemorrhage, and resulting infertility or death, if treatment is not provided in time.

Types Of Physical/Emotional Complications

Some women experience immediate psychological problems from abortion. Other women repress feelings of guilt, delaying emotional reactions sometimes for several years and oftentimes triggered by their first planned pregnancy.


These complications include:

1. Sad mood.
2. Sudden and uncontrollable crying episodes.
3. Deterioration of self-concept.
4. Sleep, appetite and sexual disturbances.
5. Reduced motivation.
6. Disruption in interpersonal relationships.
7. Extreme guilt and anxiety.
8. Psychological "numbing."
9. Depression and thoughts of suicide.

Treatment of Post Abortion Illness

To stop the bleeding

A woman who is bleeding too much may be able to help her womb squeeze shut with massage. She can do this herself or have someone else do it. Rub or massage the lower belly very hard while lying down or squatting.
If there are pieces of tissue stuck in the womb or cervix, she may be able to push them out herself by squatting and bearing down as if passing stool or giving birth.
Even if these treatments seem to work, get medical help as soon as possible. The woman will need antibiotics and may still need to have her womb emptied completely.


If there is infection, it is more likely to be a mild infection if the abortion was done sooner than 3 months (12 weeks) after the last monthly bleeding.
Serious infection is an infection that has spread into the blood (sepsis). A woman is more likely to have a serious infection if the abortion was done later than 3 or 4 months from the last monthly bleeding, or if there was an injury to the womb during the abortion. Sepsis is very dangerous and can also cause shock. Infection can happen because:
1. an unclean hand or object was put inside the womb.
2. pieces of the pregnancy were left inside the womb and they have become infected.
3. the woman already had an infection when she had the abortion.
4. a hole was made in the wall of the womb.

Signs of mild infection
1. slight fever
2. mild pain in the abdomen

Treatment for mild infection:

To keep mild infection from becoming serious, treat it immediately with the medicines listed below. A woman needs more than one medicine because infections after abortion are caused by several different kinds of germs.
A woman who is breastfeeding should use the treatment for womb infection after childbirth.

Signs of serious infection:

1. chills and high fever
2. muscle aches, weakness, and tiredness
3. swollen, hard, and painful belly
4. bad-smelling discharge from the vagina
5. a woman lying down, sweating and looking sick

Treatment for serious infection:
1. Take the woman to a health center or hospital immediately.
2. Start the following medicines right away, even if you are already on your way to the hospital.

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Content by: Dr. Mia W Marcus MD
I am Dr. Mia W Marcus MD, a medical specialist and writer.

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