Complications occur in around three per cent of surgical abortion cases. The risk of complications depends on how many weeks pregnant you are. Abortions performed in the first trimester are the safest. Most surgical abortions are performed in the first trimester.

Complications of surgical abortion can include: 

• haemorrhage – bleeding after an abortion should be similar to a menstrual period. If heavy bleeding occurs the abortion may not be complete. Sometimes, treatment for this is to do a suction curettage of the uterus. Blood transfusion is rarely required

• infection – a fever (high temperature) may indicate that you have an infection. This can be caused by an incomplete abortion or a sexually transmitted infection. Sometimes, women can develop a chronic infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Treatment for infection is with antibiotics

• injury to the uterus – the walls of your uterus are muscular but soft. Sometimes the surgical instruments used for an abortion can injure (or ‘perforate’) the uterus. In rare instances this can cause an abdominal infection (peritonitis) and severe blood loss. This complication is very rare and, if it occurs, will usually be recognised and treated straight away

• injury to the cervix – the cervix is stretched during an abortion. If you have multiple procedures the cervix can weaken – this is sometimes called an 'incompetent' cervix.

An incompetent cervix can cause problems in later pregnancies, because it is too weak to remain fully closed under the weight of a growing pregnancy. 

These last two complications are rare, because surgical abortions are undertaken by experienced surgeons. 

Risks of abortion

Abortion is very safe, but all methods carry some risk. The risk is dependent on the stage of pregnancy at which the abortion is carried out as well as the procedure used.

The pre-existing health of the woman also impacts upon the risk. It's important that you give full information about your past and present health when deciding on the procedure.