- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
- Abortion: Does it affect subsequent pregnancies?
- Baby's sex: Can parents choose?
- Ovulation signs: When is conception most likely?
- see all in Fertility
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Abortion: Does it affect subsequent pregnancies?
Could an abortion increase the risk of problems in a subsequent pregnancy?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
Generally, abortion isn't thought to cause fertility issues or complications in subsequent pregnancies. However, some research suggests a possible link between abortion and an increased risk of:
- Vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Placenta previa — when the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix, which can cause severe bleeding before or during delivery
During a medical abortion, a woman takes oral medications — such as mifepristone (Mifeprex) — in early pregnancy to abort the fetus. During a surgical abortion, the fetus is removed from the uterus — typically with a vacuum device, a syringe or a spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp edge (curette) — as an outpatient surgical procedure. Rarely, a surgical abortion can damage the cervix or uterus. In such cases, surgery might be needed to correct the damage before a woman can conceive again.
If you've had an abortion and are concerned about the possible impact on a future pregnancy, consult your health care provider. He or she can help you understand the potential risks, as well as what you can do to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.Next question
Baby's sex: Can parents choose?
- Shulman LP, et al. Overview of pregnancy termination. http://www.uptodate.com/index.html. Accessed May 20, 2011.
- Lowit A, et al. Obstetric performance following an induced abortion. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2010;24:667.
- Briggs GG, et al. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011:962.
- Shah PS, et al. Induced termination of pregnancy and low birthweight and preterm birth: A systematic review and meta-analyses. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2009;116:1425.
- Liao H, et al. Repeated medical abortions and the risk of preterm birth in the subsequent pregnancy. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. In press. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Kapp N, et al. Cervical preparation for first trimester surgical abortion. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010:CD 007207.
- 2011 Clinical Policy Guidelines. National Abortion Federation. http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/professional_education/2011%20CPGs.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Safety of abortion. National Abortion Federation. http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/safety_of_abortion.pdf. Accessed June 20, 2011.
- Liang H, et al. Mifepristone-induced abortion and vaginal bleeding in subsequent pregnancy. Contraception. In press. Accessed June 20, 2011.