Your body undergoes several changes after fertilization and implantation due to hormone fluctuations. After undergoing an abortion, you may still encounter the residual effects of pregnancy for a number of weeks afterwards. This is entirely normal as it can take some time for your hormones to normalize back to your baseline. The abortion pills are incredibly effective at terminating a pregnancy, and the likelihood that you are still pregnant is very small.
However, in some rare cases, an abortion may fail, and a pregnancy may persist even after taking the abortion pills. It is important to be vigilant of the signs and symptoms associated with continued pregnancy so that you can take quick action on the off chance you are still pregnant. This article will explain the signs of pregnancy after using an abortion method so that you can be on the lookout.
Safe abortions are a very effective way to end a pregnancy. In-clinic abortions are abortions done via a medical procedure in a health-care office. These procedures are 99 percent effective in terminating a pregnancy, meaning the likelihood that you are still pregnant afterwards is incredibly rare.
How effective is abortion with pills?
The abortion pill is another effective method and involves taking one or two different types of medications, known as Misoprostol and Mifepristone. The effectiveness of the pills will depend on three main factors: the length of the pregnancy, the number of pills you take, and the way they’re taken. Typically, an abortion with pills is very effective. However, some pregnancies will require additional medication or alternative abortion methods to successfully terminate a gestation. In general, the abortion pill is between 87 to 99 percent effective (1).
To understand the frequency of failed abortions, one study evaluated almost 5,000 women who underwent an abortion. It included individuals who received both types of abortions, including the abortion pill and in-clinic abortions. Although incomplete abortion was the most common complication associated with the abortion pill, it happened very infrequently (2).
Can I take a pregnancy test to be sure?
If you have concerns about still being pregnant after an abortion, you may consider taking a pregnancy test to confirm. However, it is important to note that over-the-counter pregnancy tests base their results on the presence of pregnancy hormones. These hormones can persist even after a pregnancy is terminated as your body is still adjusting and normalizing back to baseline. Therefore, a normal pregnancy test may yield a false positive if taken within four weeks of the abortion. Just because you receive a positive result does not mean you are pregnant.
The only way to know for sure whether you are still pregnant is to get an ultrasound done at a health-care provider (1). You can seek out these services if you are experiencing signs of pregnancy after abortion.
What are the signs of pregnancy after using an abortion method?
If you were still pregnant after using an abortion method, you would exhibit the normal signs and symptoms associated with pregnancy. These include
- tender or swollen breasts,
- increased frequency of urination, and
Additionally, if you were still pregnant, your period would not return. Abortion initiates an entirely new menstrual cycle, meaning your period should return within four to eight weeks after a successful abortion. If you exhibit symptoms of pregnancy or have still not gotten your period after eight weeks, contact your health-care provider or get in touch with an abortion counselor (1).
However, it is important to note that certain forms of birth control may affect your period. For example, an IUD can lead to fewer occurrences of menstruation or lighter menstrual flow. Consequently, if you have an IUD inserted after an abortion, it is possible that you may experience a reduction in the frequency or intensity of your periods, or you may even cease menstruating altogether.
How is an incomplete abortion treated?
On the off chance that you are still pregnant after using an abortion method, there are further treatments you can pursue. Your health-care provider will first confirm that you are still pregnant. In some cases, you can take more Misoprostol pills—one of the abortion pills—to support the uterus in contracting and expelling the pregnancy contents. Another option is to undergo an in-clinic abortion to terminate the pregnancy surgically (3).
Most safe abortions are incredibly successful – they work 99 percent of the time, depending on the abortion method. Though complications are infrequent, in rare cases, a pregnancy can persist even after using an abortion method. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs of pregnancy after abortion so that you can take appropriate action if a continued pregnancy is confirmed. If you anticipate that you are still pregnant after an abortion, contact your health-care provider or one of our abortion counselors at safe2choose.
- “How can I tell if my abortion worked? What are the signs of pregnancy after you’ve had an abortion?” Planned Parenthood, 2022, www.plannedparenthood.org/blog/how-can-i-tell-if-my-abortion-worked-what-are-the-signs-of-pregnancy-after-you-ve-had-an-abortion. Accessed July 2023.
- “Complications related to induced abortion: a combined retrospective and longitudinal follow-up study.” BMC Women’s Health, bmcwomenshealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12905-018-0645-6/tables/2. Accessed July 2023.