Have you heard of the term “incomplete abortion”? It’s a serious condition that can happen to women who have undergone an abortion.
In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about incomplete abortion – from its definition, causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What is Incomplete Abortion?
Incomplete abortion (also known as incomplete miscarriage)is a term used to describe a situation where a woman’s body has not completely expelled all the products of conception (POC) following an abortion. In other words, the abortion is not successful, and there is still some remaining tissue inside the uterus. This condition can lead to serious complications, such as infection and bleeding.
Causes of Incomplete Abortion
The following are some of the most common causes of incomplete miscarriage:
- Inadequate dilation of the cervix: This can occur if the cervix is not fully dilated before the procedure, making it difficult to remove all the fetal tissue from the uterus.
- Incomplete surgical procedure: If the surgical procedure is not performed correctly or if the instruments used are not appropriate, some fetal tissue may remain in the uterus.
- Hormonal imbalances: Hormonal imbalances can cause abnormalities in the uterine lining and make it difficult to completely expel all the fetal tissue.
- Infection: Infections can cause inflammation and swelling of the uterus, making it difficult to remove all the fetal tissue.
- Scar tissue: Scar tissue from previous procedures, such as a cesarean section or a D&C, can make it difficult to completely remove all the fetal tissue.
- Abnormalities of the uterus: Uterine abnormalities, such as fibroids or a septum, can make it difficult to completely expel all the fetal tissue.
- Medication abortion: Medication abortion is a non-surgical method of terminating a pregnancy, and sometimes the medication is not effective in expelling all the fetal tissue, leading to incomplete miscarriage.
It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect an incomplete miscarriage and as it can lead to complications such as infection or excessive bleeding.
Symptoms of Incomplete Abortion
Some of the symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding: Women with incomplete miscarriage typically experience vaginal bleeding that can be heavy or light. The bleeding may be accompanied by blood clots or tissue fragments.
- Abdominal pain: Women with incomplete miscarriage may experience cramping and abdominal pain. The pain may be mild or severe and can last for several hours or days.
- Foul-smelling discharge: Women with incomplete abortion may experience a foul-smelling discharge from the vagina. The discharge may be dark brown or black in color and may contain tissue fragments.
- Fever: Women with incomplete abortion may develop a fever, which is typically a sign of infection. The fever may be accompanied by chills and a general feeling of malaise.
- Nausea and vomiting: Some women with incomplete abortion may experience nausea and vomiting, which may be a sign of complications.
- Back pain: Women with incomplete abortion may experience back pain, which can be severe in some cases
Diagnosis of Incomplete Abortion
Here are some of the diagnostic tests that may be used to identify incomplete abortion:
- Pelvic exam: During a pelvic exam, a healthcare provider will examine the cervix and uterus to look for signs, such as bleeding or tissue fragments.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the uterus. An ultrasound can help a healthcare provider determine whether all of the pregnancy tissue has been expelled from the uterus.
- Blood tests: A healthcare provider may order blood tests to measure the levels of hCG, a hormone produced during pregnancy. If the hCG levels are high, it may indicate that some of the pregnancy tissue has not been expelled from the uterus.
- Biopsy: A healthcare provider may take a sample of the tissue in the uterus for analysis. This can help to confirm whether there is any remaining pregnancy tissue.
- Imaging studies: In some cases, imaging studies such as a CT scan or MRI may be ordered to help diagnose it.
The treatment for incomplete abortion typically involves removing any remaining pregnancy tissue from the uterus to prevent infection and other complications. The type of treatment recommended will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the amount of remaining tissue. Here are some of the common treatments:
- Dilation and curettage (D&C): This procedure involves dilating the cervix and using a curette, a spoon-shaped instrument, to remove any remaining tissue from the uterus.
- Medications: A healthcare provider may prescribe medications such as misoprostol, which can help to expel any remaining tissue from the uterus.
- Manual vacuum aspiration (MVA): This procedure involves using a handheld device to suction out any remaining tissue from the uterus.
- Expectant management: In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend watchful waiting to see if the remaining tissue will pass on its own. This is typically only recommended if the symptoms are mild and there is a small amount of remaining tissue.
After the treatment, it’s important to follow up with a healthcare provider to ensure that all of the pregnancy tissue has been removed and to monitor for any complications. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent or treat infection.
Preventing incomplete abortion is an important aspect of reproductive health and can be achieved through a combination of measures, including:
- Access to safe and legal abortion: One of the most effective ways to prevent incomplete miscarriage is to ensure that individuals have access to safe and legal abortion services. This can reduce the likelihood of individuals resorting to unsafe and potentially dangerous methods of abortion, which can increase the risk of incomplete miscarriage.
- Proper administration of medication abortion: Medication abortion is a safe and effective method of terminating a pregnancy in the early stages. However, it is important that individuals receive the appropriate dosage and timing of the medication to prevent incomplete abortion. Proper counseling and follow-up care can also help to reduce the risk of incomplete miscarriage.
- Skilled provider: Incomplete abortion can occur when the provider is not skilled enough to perform the procedure. Therefore, it is important to ensure that abortion services are provided by skilled and trained healthcare providers who follow standard protocols and guidelines.
- Timely intervention: Prompt diagnosis and management of incomplete miscarriage can prevent complications and further health risks. Individuals should be encouraged to seek medical care immediately if they experience any symptoms of incomplete abortion, such as heavy bleeding or abdominal pain.
- Post-abortion care: Comprehensive post-abortion care can help to prevent incomplete miscarriage and manage any complications that may arise. This includes counseling, contraception, and follow-up care to ensure that the abortion is complete and that the individual is healthy.
Incomplete abortion is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. If you have undergone an abortion and experience any symptoms of incomplete miscarriage, seek medical attention immediately. Remember to choose a reputable healthcare provider and follow all instructions provided to prevent incomplete miscarriage. With proper care and treatment, most cases of incomplete miscarriage can be effectively resolved