Researchers at the Bicetre Hospital report that induced abortions increase the risk of a future ectopic pregnancy. The incidence of ectopic pregnancies (development of a fetus outside the womb) has increased by a factor of three to four in developed countries during the last 20 years and now constitutes about 1.5 per cent of all pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies can lead to a significant increase in infertility and is the leading cause of maternal death during the first trimester of pregnancy. Their study involved 503 women who had been admitted to hospital with an ectopic pregnancy and 1385 women with a normal pregnancy. The researchers concluded that women with no previous ectopic pregnancy who had had one or more induced abortions had a 50 per cent or higher increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy as compared to women who had not undergone an induced abortion. The difference in the incidence of ectopic pregnancies among women who had undergone an induced abortion and those who had not was insignificant in cases where the women had already experienced one or more ectopic pregnancies. The researchers confirmed that prior genital infection, smoking at the time of conception, prior pelvic surgery, induced conception cycle, and a prior ectopic pregnancy are significant risk factors as well with prior pelvic surgery increasing the risk almost six- fold and a prior ectopic pregnancy increasing it 10-fold. The researchers speculate that the association between induced abortion and the subsequent risk of an ectopic pregnancy may largely be due to injuries suffered during the actual surgical abortion process or subsequent infections.
Tharaux-Deneux, Catherine, et al. Risk of ectopic pregnancy and previous induced abortion. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 88, March 1998, pp. 401-05