Choosing to terminate a pregnancy for any reason is an emotional decision. Women who’ve done so in their past often have questions about their fertility health when they begin to actively try to conceive. In this Q&A, we bring you common concerns and address naturally supporting fertility health after planned termination.
1. Q. I have had a planned termination in the past. I’m concerned that this could have affected my fertility. Is there a link between infertility and planned termination?
A. Having a planned termination (abortion) is not believed to lead to infertility. However, with any surgical procedure, there can be potential for increased infection or scar tissue formation.
If you experience any signs of infection like fever, pain, abdominal swelling or abnormal vaginal discharge, definitely speak to your doctor (even if your procedure was a long time ago). Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) caused by an untreated infection can increase your risk of fertility problems or an ectopic pregnancy in the future.
Natural Support After a Planned Termination
2. Cleanse the liver & uterus. A Fertility Cleanse is a 30-day program that can help you begin to rebalance your hormones. Specific cleansing herbs help increase circulation and tonify the uterine muscles, all helping to promote a healthy uterine environment.
3. Help the body prevent scar tissue formation. Systemic Enzyme Therapy is an excellent tool to boost recovery. Systemic enzymes encourage and support:
- natural immune strength
- proper circulation
- the body’s ability to break down fibrin (the substance that makes up scar tissue)
4. Naturally support uterine health. A natural uterine support program offers gentle, ongoing support as you work to encourage healthy fertility and look forward to when you will prepare for pregnancy in the future. Having numerous surgical terminations or a complicated termination can lead to cervical weakness (incompetent cervix) in rare cases. (Note: Today, fewer than 1 in 100 women have complications from early planned termination.) Doctors are equipped to help with cervical weakness in pregnancy, should there be a need.
5. Address stress. If you’re under high stress after this experience, try natural therapies to soothe anxiety and help you relax…
- book a massage
- make a cup of warm Tulsi tea, aka Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) or Chamomile tea (Matricaria chamomilla)
- plan a lunch date with a trusted friend who can offer a listening ear
- read a good book you can lose yourself in for awhile
6. Process the experience, grieve, and move forward. Give yourself the opportunity after this experience to take time to heal physically and emotionally. Let yourself grieve your loss if you need to. Take advantage of support when you need it and remember we are here for you.
2. Q. I had a planned surgical termination in 2008. I’ve been having unprotected intercourse since, but still have not gotten pregnant. Could I have uterine scarring or adhesions as a result of my procedure?
A. The best way to truly know if you have uterine scarring or adhesions is through medical testing (usually hysteroscopy). Please do reach out to your healthcare provider if you’re concerned.
It is important to note that serious complications occur in less than 1 out of a 100 early planned terminations. Scarring or adhesions generally occur after numerous surgical terminations, or a complicated termination. Most women experience a short recovery time (4-6 weeks) and go on to have normal uterine health and function after a planned termination.
Suggestions for uterine support and reproductive health after a planned termination:
- Systemic enzymes support a normal inflammation response and the body’s ability to break down fibrin (the substance that makes up scar tissue).
- Castor oil packs encourage natural cleansing through the lymphatic system and help to bring in fresh blood to the reproductive system. Castor oil packs can be done to help relax the muscles before applying Self-Fertility Massage.
- Self-Fertility Massage helps to increase circulation, strengthen uterine muscles and can help break up scar tissue and adhesion formation. As a bonus, it can be done from the comfort of your own home.
- Consider the herb Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus). In one study, Shatavari was shown to increase phagocytic activity of macrophages, in turn reducing intraperitoneal adhesions, meaning Shatavari may increase the activity of white blood cells that digest foreign tissue growth throughout the body. Even though this is just one study, if Shatavari can increase phagocytic activity of macrophages, it may be useful for decreasing adhesions in many places in the body.
As you move forward, following a full natural fertility program may be extremely beneficial. Fertility Charting and timed intercourse can be a good first step if you’re unsure when your fertile window is. Additionally, working more closely with your doctor may give you more information on your current fertility status. Please reach out to us if we can help more.
3. Q: “Hello! I made the mistake of taking Plan B a few times in the last few months. One month I had 2 periods and now it’s been over a month with nothing. I am now trying to get pregnant. I haven’t seen any signs of ovulation. I’ve tracked CM and used ovulation strips. Can Vitex help balance my hormones? Would it hurt to try or should I just wait it out? Please let me know. Thank you!”
A: Good question!
First, a bit about the Plan B pill to help with understanding how it works. Plan B contains levonorgestrel, the same type of progesterone used in oral contraceptives, but at a higher dose. It works by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. If you have taken it more than once in a month, you could have overused it. Fertility Charting can give you information on your fertile window so you know if you are ovulating and help you learn about your menstrual cycle. Charting cervical mucus and using OPKs can help detect ovulation too, so they can be continued.
Additionally, Plan B while effective if used as directed, can have side effects. There is always the potential of side effects or changes in the cycle with a large dose of hormones. (Some women react to very small doses of hormones, too!) Some women notice their periods are lighter, heavier, earlier or later than usual after using Plan B. Since you have taken it a few times, it may take a while for your body to find its “normal” again.
Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) is a good choice to help your body normalize from this experience. Vitex supports the pituitary gland and the hormonal feedback loop involved in healthy menstruation and fertility. Vitex has been shown to balance the menstrual cycle, helping if the cycle is absent or too heavy and frequent. I suggest using it for at least 3-6 months to get the most benefits. Vitex really works best when it’s used consistently, as directed all month long.
As you move forward, follow a Fertility Diet to keep your reproductive system well-nourished and strong. A daily stress management program (with meditation, aromatherapy or EFT) can help, too. High stress can affect ovulation and the menstrual cycle. In fact, although Plan B differs from birth control, the tips in the section Natural Remedies To Bring Back A Healthy Menstrual Cycle of our guide How to Balance Your Hormones After Birth Control may also be helpful! I hope you are feeling back to yourself very soon!
- Possible Physical Side Effects After Abortion. (2016). Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/abortion-side-effects/
- Barton-Shuster, D. (n.d.). Asherman’s Syndrome: Heal and Prevent Uterine Adhesions Naturally. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/ashermans-syndrome-heal-and-prevent-uterine-adhesions-naturally.html
- Barton-Shuster, D. (n.d.). D & C (Dilation and Curettage): Natural Preparation and Recovery. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/dc-dilation-preparation-recovery.html
- Harms, R.W.,(2016). Could an abortion increase the problems in a subsequent pregnancy? Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/abortion/faq-20058551
- Can having an abortion affect my fertility? (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1645.aspx?CategoryID=60
- Carmon, I., (2010). Do multiple abortions actually harm your ability to conceive? Retrieved from: http://jezebel.com/5667742/do-multiple-abortions-actually-harm-your-ability-to-conceive
- Plan B One Step. (2017). Retrieved from: http://www.planbonestep.com/
- Barton-Schuster, D. (n.d.). Enhance Overall Fertility With Evening Primrose. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/fertility-evening-primrose-oil.html
- Rodriguez, H. (n.d.). Vitex: Fertility Super Herb? Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/vitex