Abortion and the Cervix

Abortion and the Cervix

Worried-Woman-1So often one may not think much about the vital role that the cervix serves in maintaining a pregnancy to term.  We come to appreciate our feet more when something goes wrong with one of them that hinders our mobility. Cervical damage that may hinder a woman’s ability to carry a pregnancy to term, can and does occur from induced abortions.

Although cervical insufficiency or cervical incompetence has other causes, the necessary dilation of the normally tightly closed cervix in order to introduce the suction cannula and other instruments into the uterus to complete the abortion can cause weakening of the cervix. This weakening or incompetence may result in miscarriage or preterm labor brought on by the weight and pressure on the cervix as a subsequent pregnancy progresses. This cervical incompetence during the second trimester is one of the leading causes of miscarriage.

The damage or injury to the cervix may be microscopic or macroscopic due to the forced dilation of the cervix. Ranging from tiny tears to the cervical muscle to more serious injury to the uterine wall, the abortion procedure can increase the risk of premature birth, miscarriage or labor complications. Often the cervical weakness or injury is not discovered until premature labor or miscarriage of a “wanted” pregnancy occurs. This is often  between the 16th and 24th week of pregnancy.

A surgical procedure called “cerclage” where the cervix is stitched closed with sutures can help reduce some of the pregnancy losses related to the weakened or damaged cervix, but this is not always successful and has to be repeated with each pregnancy. Often bed rest is required for the mother and the baby is often delivered prematurely. Premature delivery also often results in a longer hospital stay and other complications for the newborn.

Certainly the majority of women who have chosen to terminate an unwanted pregnancy do not experience cervical incompetence, however the risk factor is a reality and increases with each abortion. Other after effects of abortion are also a reality that many women are not aware of. Choosing to terminate a pregnancy is a major life-changing decision with consequences both obvious and not- so obvious.

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