An abortion is a normal, common medical procedure that at least 25% of women have undergone. It’s also something your doctor will probably ask about if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or are seeking routine gynecological care. Sadly, not all doctors are pro-choice, and some make their anti-choice feelings very clear to their patients. Even if your doctor is pro-choice, you may fear judgment or feel uncomfortable talking about your abortion.
So do you have to tell your doctor you had an abortion? The short answer is no. It’s your body, and you can choose to tell your doctor whatever you want. There’s no way your doctor can tell you’ve had an abortion, either. But is it a good idea? If you’re considering omitting your abortion from your medical records, here are some things to consider.
Can an Abortion Affect My Health?
Complications associated with abortion are rare–much rarer than pregnancy complications. That doesn’t mean they’re impossible. An abortion can affect your health in several ways:
- Rarely, an abortion may cause uterine injuries that affect your ability to get pregnant.
- Following an abortion, it is possible for your periods to change.
- An infection after an abortion may damage your reproductive organs.
In most cases, an abortion is irrelevant to your health, but you never know for sure whether you have undiagnosed complications. This is why it’s unwise to lie to your doctor about your abortion, especially if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or have other reproductive health issues.
Why Might My Doctor Need to Know I’ve Had an Abortion?
Your doctor isn’t just being nosy. There are a number of reasons your doctor needs to know about your abortion history:
- Abortion can affect your health, especially if you experience an injury during an abortion.
- If you had an abortion for medical reasons, such as pregnancy complications or a genetic anomaly in the fetus, your doctor needs to know this history.
- If you’re struggling with fertility issues, it’s helpful for your doctor to know you’ve gotten pregnant before.
- Knowing the timing of your abortion can help with diagnosing other issues. For example, if you developed pelvic pain after an abortion, this could mean you suffered an injury during the procedure.
Alternatives to Telling Your Doctor About an Abortion
Lying to your doctor is not a great idea, even about abortion. But if you’re still worried about disclosing, you have an alternative. You can tell your doctor you had a miscarriage followed by a D&C–the medical term for an abortion after a fetus dies in utero. The two experiences are medically identical, but your doctor is unlikely to judge you for a prior miscarriage. Moreover, if you’re concerned that your abortion injured your uterus, you can still raise this issue, since a D&C following a miscarriage may also cause injuries.
There’s a big caveat here: if you have a history of miscarriage, adding another miscarriage to the list may be an issue, especially if you have had three or more miscarriages in a row and are trying to get pregnant. In this situation, you have a couple of options:
- Find a doctor whom you know to be pro-choice. This is by far the best option.
- Omit one of the other miscarriages from the record, to avoid creating the illusion you’ve had more miscarriages than you actually have.
- Put the abortion in your written records, with a note indicating you do not wish to talk about it.
If you’re struggling to find a pro-choice doctor in your area, check out your local Planned Parenthood. They, along with some abortion clinics, offer the full spectrum of necessary healthcare, including fertility counseling.