Can Abortions Cause Endometriosis? Myths vs. Facts

Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. Spontaneous abortion or miscarriage is the unintentional loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks. Many people think that abortion or miscarriage causes endometriosis (endo), but that is not the case. This myth is most likely due to confusion regarding endometriosis and endometritis.

This article reviews these misconceptions, the difference between endometriosis and endometritis, other endo myths, abortion options for those with endometriosis, treatment access, and endo pain management. 

A young woman in pain laying in bed with a hot water bottle on her abdomen.

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Abortion Doesn’t Cause Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a gynecologic condition that occurs when endometrial-type tissue is present outside the uterus or womb. As endometrial lesions grow and bleed outside the uterus, they cause pain and other symptoms. 

While the exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, there is no evidence that abortion causes it. This includes medication and surgically induced abortions. 

And Neither Do Miscarriages

A miscarriage is the unintentional loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks. In medicine, it is also referred to as a spontaneous abortion. 

Research shows that those with endometriosis have a high risk of miscarriage and ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancy. However, there is no evidence that miscarriages cause endometriosis. 

The myth that miscarriage or abortion can cause endometriosis is most likely because each can cause endometritis. While endometritis and endometriosis sound similar, they are distinct and unrelated health conditions. 

Endometriosis vs. Endometritis

Endometritis and endometriosis are two different conditions. Both conditions refer to the endometrium or lining of the uterus (womb). Endometritis occurs in the uterus, while endometriosis occurs outside the uterus. 

The suffix of each word can help distinguish the two conditions, as follows:

  • "itis": When a word ends in "itis," it indicates inflammation. "Endometritis" is irritation or inflammation of the endometrium. It is usually due to infection or a pelvic procedure done through the cervix. 
  • "osis": Medical words that end in "osis" refer to an abnormal process or condition. "Endometriosis" is endometrial-type tissue that grows and bleeds outside of the uterus. It is abnormal because this type of tissue should only grow inside the uterus. 

Other Endo Myths

The following are other common misconceptions about endometriosis:

Myth: Endo symptoms are just part of a normal but heavy period.

Fact: Endometriosis is more than a heavy, painful period. It can cause infertility (inability to get pregnant), nerve irritation, scar tissue, and chronic pain or health conditions. 

Myth: Endo only affects the pelvis area (between the hips).

Fact: Endometriosis lesions are most frequently in the pelvic area. However, they can occur throughout the body.

Myth: Endo is always painful.

Fact: Some people don’t have pain with endo. Many find out they have it when seeing a healthcare provider for infertility.

Myth: Endo can be prevented.

Fact: There are ways to decrease the risk, including by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, or choosing a lower-estrogen birth control method. However, there is no proven technique to prevent endo.

Myth: Endo always improves after hysterectomy or menopause.

Fact: Endo symptoms don’t always end with menopause (when the occurrence of periods have stopped for 12 or more months) as some estrogen is still being made and can cause the lesions to react. Lesions can also be missed during a hysterectomy

Abortion Options With Endometriosis

One abortion option involves taking medications at home. Surgical options occur in a healthcare provider’s office, hospital, or surgery center. The method depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy, your preference, and the services your provider offers.

Medication

Abortion through medication is an option early in pregnancy and can be considered as soon as pregnancy is confirmed. Some of the medications used include:

Medication-induced abortions are safe for those with endometriosis. Risks and complications are the same for those with and without endometriosis. Along with bleeding and passing tissue, you may experience:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cramping

Medication Abortions in the United States

Over half of the abortions in the United States are performed with medications, usually within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. 

Surgical

A manual abortion is a surgical procedure performed five to 13 weeks after your last period. The healthcare provider uses a handheld syringe to generate suction. It takes five to 15 minutes and has a high success rate. 

A machine vacuum aspiration abortion is performed five to 12 weeks after your last period. The healthcare provider dilates (widens) the cervix and inserts a tube attached to a vacuum and pump. It uses suction to remove tissue from the uterus. 

Abortions are safe when performed by a trained healthcare professional who follows evidence-based guidelines. As with other surgical procedures, abortions have risks, including: 

  • Pain
  • Bleeding 
  • Infection
  • Anesthesia problems

Surgical abortions can cause damage to the endometrium (uterus or womb lining) and uterine scarring, but not endometriosis.

Major Complications of Abortion

Significant complications are extremely rare when abortions are performed by a trained healthcare provider who follows current guidelines. They include: 

  • Hemorrhage (heavy bleeding) 
  • Organ damage
  • Cervical laceration or cut 
  • Failed abortion 
  • Sepsis (severe bloodstream infection)
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) (abnormal blood clotting)

Access to Treatment

When abortions are performed by unlicensed persons or those who use outdated methods, the risks for severe complications increase significantly. You can find a verified abortion provider at Abortion Finder

In the United States, abortion laws vary among states. These laws are frequently changing. This state-by-state guide provides up-to-date information about the current laws in your state.

Telehealth is an option when you meet the criteria for a medication abortion. You can access abortion services via telehealth from various companies and organizations, such as: 

Keep in mind that some states ban telehealth for abortion care. If you have questions about laws, abortions for those under 18, or self-managed abortion and care, you can contact the Repro Legal Helpline at www.reprolegalhelpline.org or 844-868-2812.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Ovarian Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, or Uterine Fibroids

Spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) are more common in those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), especially when receiving fertility treatment. The same is true with ovarian endometriosis, which can cause ovarian cysts. 

Mifeprex, a medication used for abortions, also treats uterine fibroids. However, there is no evidence that abortion causes these gynecological conditions. 

Managing Endometriosis Pain

Treatment for endometriosis can range from lifestyle modifications to surgery. 

Lifestyle changes that may help with endometriosis include:

For mild endometriosis cramping, you can also try the following:

For endometriosis-related nerve, hip, or leg pain, the following options may help:

For moderate to severe pain, your healthcare provider may suggest the following:

  • Prescription anti-inflammatory or pain medications
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Nerve blocks
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Vaginal Valium (diazepam)
  • Injections such as Chirocaine (levobupivacaine) or Botox, BTXA, Dysport (onabotulinumtoxin A)
  • Surgery

Complementary and alternative treatments that may provide relief include:

Summary 

Endometriosis is endometrial-type tissue located outside the uterus. When it grows and bleeds, it causes pain and other symptoms. 

There is a misconception that abortions or miscarriages cause endometriosis. While the exact cause of endo is unclear, there is no evidence that either abortions or miscarriages cause it. 

Those with endometriosis can safely obtain an abortion through medications in early pregnancy or a surgical procedure. Abortions are safe when performed by a licensed healthcare provider who uses current evidence-based guidelines. 

A Word From Verywell

The information can be overwhelming if you are weighing your options regarding pregnancy. Keep in mind that abortions should only be administered by licensed healthcare providers. You can find a verified abortion provider at Abortion Finder. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure your safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do abortions create scar tissue?

    Yes, scar tissue can develop in the uterus from recent pregnancy, abortion, fibroids, trauma, surgery, or infection. 

  • Can you have Asherman’s Syndrome and endometriosis?

    Yes, you can have both. Asherman's Syndrome (AS) is a uterine blockage due to scarring, usually from recent pregnancy, fibroids, trauma, surgery, infection, or radiation. Endometriosis is endometrial-type tissue that grows outside the uterus.

  • Is it safe to have an abortion with endometriosis?

    Yes, there is no contraindication for (reason not to have) an abortion with endometriosis. However, those with endometriosis may have more pain with abortions, much like they experience with their period.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Brandi Jones, MSN-ED RN-BC
Brandi is a nurse and the owner of Brandi Jones LLC. She specializes in health and wellness writing including blogs, articles, and education.