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An incomplete abortion is one complication that can arise after experiencing an abortion. Incomplete abortion is caused by tissue from the pregnancy remaining in the uterus after an abortion. It is a risk of both medical and surgical abortions.

Signs of an incomplete abortion can include:

  • Heavy bleeding (soaking through more than 2 pads in an hour)
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal or lower-back pain
  • Passing large clots through vaginal bleeding 
  • Fever or chills
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina

Seek Emergency Care

If you have experienced an abortion and are experiencing signs or symptoms of an incomplete abortion, you should immediately seek medical help. Incomplete abortion requires treatment as it will not resolve on its own. The complications of incomplete abortion can be life-threatening and include the following:

  • Infection
  • Hemorrhage (bleeding too much)
  • Infertility

Risk Factors for Incomplete Abortion

While incomplete abortion is a risk factor of any abortion procedure, there are risk factors that make some women more at risk than others. 

When choosing an abortion, a woman should be screened for the following risk factors to determine her risk for incomplete abortion:

  • Abortion later in the pregnancy
  • Certain medical conditions like bleeding disorders or infections
  • History of C-section
  • Obtaining an illegal or unsafe abortion

Incomplete Abortion Treatment

When diagnosed quickly, before severe complications arise, an incomplete abortion requires medication that opens the cervix (the opening of the uterus) and signals the uterus to begin contracting. This forces the remaining tissue out of the body through the vagina.

When the complications from an incomplete abortion have progressed too severely or if medication is unsuccessful at treating the symptoms, surgery to remove the pregnancy might be necessary. Surgery to remove the remaining tissue is called dilation and curettage (D&C). A D&C involves opening the cervix with tools and using suction to remove the remaining tissue.

Medications like antibiotics and pain medication might also be needed to treat incomplete abortion.


Weighing your options when it comes to your unintended pregnancy can be a very daunting task. Let us know if we can help. Our coaches can offer you the information you need to feel confident about your choices. You don’t have to walk through this alone. Get the support you need in a safe and welcoming place. Contact us today for a free appointment.

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