Over half of women who have an abortion intend to have children in the future, according to John Ehiri's 2009 book “Maternal and Child Health.” Everyone’s story is unique. Yet, women -- and men -- who wish to have children after abortion often have similar experiences and concerns and turn for help to similar resources.
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Post-Abortion Family Planning
Fertility can return as early as two weeks post-abortion, according to "Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers." Generally women are advised to wait five to seven days before resuming sexual activity and six months before becoming pregnant again. If you have just had an abortion, make sure your doctor advises you when you can safely have intercourse again, when pregnancy will become medically advisable for you and what family planning choices might work most effectively for you before you are ready to seek out conception.
Although many people worry that past abortions will render them infertile, this generally does not happen, according to MayoClinic.com. Some research does link abortion with early-pregnancy vaginal bleeding, preterm birth, low birth weight, placenta previa and Asherman’s syndrome, a uterine scarring condition associated with infertility. Ask your doctor to evaluate both you and your partner for infertility if you have not conceived together after at least one to two years of contraception-free sex or have had repeated miscarriages.
Grief and Trauma
Psychotherapist Kim Kluger-Bell identifies “emotional numbness, rage, fearfulness, shame and a continuing sense that one is pregnant” as common grief responses to pregnancy losses such as abortion. A 2005 study from Norway names abortion "a potential trauma.” If you seek conception or adoption, difficult feelings about past abortions may intensify, resurface or perhaps happen for the first time. You can gain insight into whatever possible effects your abortion may have upon you, your partner, the children you are seeking to parent and others. Some people whose grief and trauma issues emerge or re-emerge benefit from psychotherapy and specialized post-abortion support resources, such as 4Exhale.org or SilentNoMoreAwareness.org.
Effects on Future Children
The more healing you achieve from past pregnancy loss, including abortion, the more emotional freedom and availability you likely will have as a parent. Whether, why, when and how to disclose past abortions to your children may be a concern for you. They may sense the loss without anyone directly revealing it to them. Your children may have their own post-abortion grief. Sometimes a family therapist, spiritual adviser or specialized post-abortion program can give support and reassurance in grappling with these complex, sensitive issues.
Finding and Affording Help
You may wonder how to find and afford help with such needs as mental health and family counseling, contraception, infertility treatment or prenatal and childbirth care. Contact your country's ministry of health or a national affiliate of organizations such as InternationalMidwives.org, the World Medical Association, World Psychiatric Association and FIGO/International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. In the United States, try visiting HealthCare.gov or the National Association of Community Health Center's Find a Health Center Web page.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- “Bio Med Central Medicine”; The Course of Mental Health After Miscarriage and Induced Abortion; A. Nordal Broen, et al.; 2005
- Exhale: An After-Abortion Counseling Talkline
- “Journal of Perinatal Education”; The Impact of Previous Perinatal Loss on Subsequent Pregnancy and Parenting; Elizabeth H. Lamb; Spring 2002
- MayoClinic.com; Could an Abortion Increase the Risk of Problems in a Subsequent Pregnancy?; Roger W. Harms
- Silent No More Awareness; How You Can Find Hope, Help and Healing After Abortion?; Leslie Graves
- Unspeakable Losses: Healing from Miscarriage, Abortion, and Other Pregnancy Loss”; Kim Kluger-Bell; 2000
- Asherman’s Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes
- Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers
- “Maternal and Child Health: Global Challenges, Programs, and Policies”; John Ehiri; 2009
- MedlinePlus: Infertility
- National Association of Community Health Center’s Find a Health Center
- Silent No More Awareness; Talking With Your Children About a Past Abortion; Amy Sobie
- World Health Organization: Infertility