When pregnancy tissue remains inside the uterus after an elective or spontaneous abortion, it is considered incomplete. If you’re experiencing moderate to severe vaginal bleeding and lower abdominal or pelvic pain after an abortion, you need to see your healthcare provider immediately.

What Is An Elective Abortion?

Choosing to have an abortion is difficult enough, but finding out it was incomplete would be a nightmare. When a pregnancy ends naturally before 20 weeks, healthcare providers call it a spontaneous abortion. An elective abortion is when a woman chooses to terminate her pregnancy.

When you choose (or elect) to have an abortion, you have either a medical or surgical procedure based on how far along you are in your pregnancy. A medical abortion uses drugs like the abortion pill. A surgical procedure uses instruments such as a vacuum or suction device, a sharp spoon-shaped curette for scraping, and forceps to remove larger parts of the pregnancy.

Symptoms of an Incomplete Abortion

Whether your abortion was spontaneous or elective, there is always the possibility that your body does not expel all of the pregnancy tissue. In fact, the Mayo Clinic lists an incomplete abortion at the top of its list of risks for a medical abortion. 

The National Library of Medicine lists the following signs of incomplete abortion:

  • Moderate or severe vaginal bleeding, which may become heavier. 
  • Lower abdominal pain and cramping.
  • Passing tissue or blood clots.
  • Pain that radiates to your lower back.
  • Fever and infection

What Should I Do if the Abortion Was Incomplete?

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms after an abortion, visit your healthcare provider. The doctor will use a pregnancy test and ultrasound to diagnose an incomplete abortion. 

The ultrasound should reveal pregnancy tissue in the uterus, and a pregnancy test determines if the hCG hormone is still in your body. Some doctors may also run blood tests. 

How is an Incomplete Abortion Treated?

Your healthcare provider may prescribe drugs (misoprostol) causing contractions to expel the tissue. An incomplete abortion may require a surgical procedure such as dilation and curettage (D & C). A D & C procedure removes tissue using suction and the spoon-shaped scraping curette. 

How Can I Prevent an Incomplete Abortion?

There is no way to tell who will have an incomplete abortion. If you have had a medical abortion, such as the abortion pill method, make sure you follow FDA guidelines. The FDA has approved the drugs through ten weeks gestation only (70 days or less since the first day of a patient’s last menstrual period). 

The FDA does not recommend purchasing the drugs online because it bypasses specific safeguards. You cannot ensure you are getting the correct dosage and quality. 

Should I Consider Abortion?

If you are considering abortion for your unplanned pregnancy, we suggest confirming your pregnancy first. We offer free and confidential pregnancy tests and a free ultrasound

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates that as many as 26% of all pregnancies end in a spontaneous miscarriage. An ultrasound reveals if your pregnancy is viable (growing with a detectable heartbeat) or if you have had a miscarriage. 

Schedule your free appointment by filling out our confidential online contact form or give us a call. We’re here to answer your questions and give you the information you need to make a confident, empowered decision.

*PCS Health does not perform or refer for abortions.