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Failed Abortion: What You Need to Know

Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures you can undergo–comparable to getting a tooth filed. Like any other medical procedure, though, it is imperfect. Abortions occasionally fail, which means either that the pregnancy continues or products of conception remain in your uterus. A failed abortion requires medical treatment. If you experience a failed abortion: what you need to know about this unusual phenomenon.

What is a Failed Abortion?

A failed abortion happens when an abortion procedure does not completely remove the entire pregnancy from the uterus. In some cases, this might mean a person remains pregnant and the fetus still has a heartbeat. More commonly, though, a failed abortion simply means that some tissue, such as from the placenta, is left behind.

Failed abortions are rare–accounting for about 1% of abortions. But they can also be dangerous, so it is important to seek prompt treatment.

How is a Failed Abortion Treated?

To diagnose a failed abortion, a doctor will do an ultrasound to look for products of conception in the uterus. If the abortion is failed or incomplete, there are two options: another surgery or an abortion pill. The specific treatment depends on how far along you are, and other factors. If you have an infection, you may need antibiotics.

Very rarely, some women elect to continue a pregnancy after a failed abortion. This is only possible when the fetus has a heartbeat, which is the least likely scenario. The risk of birth defects may increase in this situation, so you’ll need to see a perinatologist to discuss your options.

Symptoms of a Failed Abortion

A failed abortion is not something to ignore. The longer you wait, the higher the risk of serious complications becomes. If you have any of these symptoms, call the abortion clinic right away:

  • Bleeding that stops for several days, then starts again or becomes heavier.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • A bad smell coming from the vagina.
  • Pain in the stomach.
  • A fever below 102 degrees.

If you experience these symptoms, don’t wait for a call back from the abortion clinic. Go to the emergency room:

  • A fever above 102 degrees.
  • Chills.
  • Feeling very sick.
  • Heavy bleeding–enough to soak through more than one large pad per hour for more than two hours.
  • Blood clots larger than the size of a golf ball that happen more than once. A single blood clot is not an emergency, but continuously passing large blood clots is.

You should also go to the emergency room if the abortion clinic does not return your call on the same day, or if they are dismissive of your symptoms.

The right abortion clinic will take your concerns seriously, and do everything they can to mitigate risk. Click here for help finding a safe, compassionate abortion clinic.

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