Incomplete abortion: What it is and how to avoid it?

An incomplete abortion is not a rare incidence. Most of the unsafe abortions end up in one or more complications. And incomplete abortions are the commonest among them.

Women who get a miscarriage or an unsafe abortion are at the highest risk of having an incomplete abortion. And what a misery it brings along is something women who have experienced it can tell you better.

Although incomplete abortions may happen with any woman, however, exercising caution can prevent this and other associated complications.

This post intends to help the readers understand what an incomplete abortion is and how it is preventable.

So, let’s begin!

Before we proceed towards what an incomplete abortion is, it is important to understand what a complete abortion is.

Complete abortion:

Abortion is a triggered removal of gestation products. In events of unwanted pregnancies, induced abortions are sought. An abortion intends to evacuate the uterine cavity and remove the embryo and other products of conception.

When all the products are successfully removed and there is no remnant left in the womb, the procedure is successful. It is called a complete abortion.

In events of miscarriage that happen with quite a several wanted pregnancies, if all the contents are removed, it may also be termed as complete abortion. Or sometimes a complete miscarriage.

However, if some products of gestation remain as leftovers in the womb, it is a case of incomplete abortion.

Incomplete abortion:

As mentioned above, in incomplete abortion, all the pregnancy products are not evacuated from the womb. It may sound confusing to some that an incomplete abortion means that a woman is still pregnant. Or that the embryo failed to get removed from the uterus.

But that’s not true. That case would be termed as a failed abortion. And it may happen on the rarest occasions. Those are the cases when pregnancy termination does not happen at all.

Incomplete expulsion of uterine contents falls in the category of incomplete abortions. Pregnancy is terminated but has left some of its products, a few tissues left in the womb.

What remains in the womb in a case of incomplete abortion?

In events of incomplete abortions, the embryo has likely been removed. However, some placental tissue or the uterine lining or some other fetal tissue may still be present. It is that the womb has not emptied completely.

If you are seeking an abortion, you should know that an incomplete abortion complication is preventable.

How common is an incomplete abortion?

The majority of women who undergo safe abortions do not face this complication. But some women are at a higher risk of having this complication.

Some of the risk factors and women who tend to have an incomplete abortion are:

  • Woman’s age
  • Maternal diseases like:
    • Uncontrolled Diabetes
    • Hypertension
    • Renal (kidney) disease
    • thyroid disorder
    • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or diseases (PCOD)
    • lupus
    • thrombophilia
    • being underweight or overweight
    • abnormal uteri like that of bicornuate shape or some other distortion
    • teratogen exposure that may be because of drug, alcohol, caffeine, radiation and some other teratogenic substances
    • infections like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), Listeria monocytogenes, etc.
    • an immune disorder like any autoimmune disorder
    • incompetent cervix
    • Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or drugs
  • Improper implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine lining
  • Poor prenatal care in a previous delivery or abortion or miscarriage
  • Lower abdomen or pelvic trauma in the past.

What are the symptoms of incomplete abortion?

How may I know that my abortion was successful?

Is it possible that what I am experiencing maybe because of incomplete abortion?

These and other similar questions come along with an incomplete abortion. And here are a few symptoms that may help you understand whether your abortion was complete or incomplete.

These are:

  • Bleeding or even spotting beyond 12 days in case of medical abortion. And with surgical abortion, bleeding should normally subside within 3-4 days. In any case, if the bleeding does not wean away within a week, you may schedule an appointment for an ultrasound. It may reveal whether the abortion was complete or incomplete.
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis is expected to improve in a couple of days but has not improved.
  • Although you may still feel pregnant-like after an abortion for a couple of days, if you have it for more than 4-5 days, you may take a urine or blood pregnancy test. If it is positive, you may have some pregnancy products left out in the womb.
  • Discomfort in the belly region, especially when anything presses on the there.
  • Fever with or without chills may be there in case incomplete abortion is accompanied by infections.

How is an incomplete abortion diagnosed?

When a woman with any or more of the above symptoms visits the doctor, she may be asked to undergo a few diagnostic tests. These include the blood test, urine analysis and transvaginal ultrasound.

Blood and urine samples may be taken to determine the presence of infection, hormone levels and others to confirm for pregnancy. Others may be needed in events of special cases such as blood sugar in the case of diabetic patients. Or some other tests according to individual patient’s existing health conditions. 

The sonography will confirm the presence and even location of the remnants of products of gestation.

What causes an incomplete abortion and how to prevent it?

Although it may happen to any woman, there are some common reasons when women are presented with incomplete abortions.

Some of these may include:


The earlier the abortion happens, the lesser are the chances of incomplete abortion. During the early stages of pregnancy, the embryo size is small. It is easy for it to pass out naturally.

The uterine lining is also in its initial stage, i.e. it has just begun to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. This makes it easier for it to be shed naturally like a menstrual period.

However, with each passing day, gestation length increases. And later you seek an abortion, higher are the chances of incomplete abortion.

According to the gestation period, here is the approximate percentage of incomplete abortions:

  • Up to day 77 of the pregnancy: 1.6%
  • 78 – 83 days: 2.6%
  • Between 83 to 91 days: 3.4%

Method of abortion:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended three methods for performing safe abortions. These are:

  1. The medical method of abortion
  2. Vacuum Aspiration method of abortion
  3. Surgical or Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E) method of abortion.

The chances of an incomplete abortion vary with the method of abortion used. This may be because of the procedure efficiency.

These three methods of abortion are prescribed after evaluating the individual patient conditions. But mostly, you can expect these methods to be chosen as per the gestation length at the time of the abortion.

For an intrauterine pregnancy (normal pregnancy where the embryo has been implanted in the uterus), the choice of these methods according to the gestation period may be:

  • The medical method of abortion may be used for terminating very early pregnancies. The pregnancies that have not advanced beyond 6-8 weeks may be terminated by safe abortion pills.
  • The vacuum Aspiration method of abortion may be used for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Dilatation & Evacuation methods of abortion in India may be used up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Now, let’s see how are abortion methods and incomplete abortions related to each other.

Risk of incomplete abortion with the medical method of abortion:

Using them after 8 weeks:

In case the medical abortion method is used beyond the recommended period of 8 weeks, the probability of an incomplete abortion may increase.

The efficiency of abortion pills:

Besides, abortion pills are only 95%-97% efficient and that too if they are of the highest standards. Hence, there is always some probability of incomplete abortion. So, even if the abortion pills are used within the recommended period, there are quite some chances of incomplete abortion.

The dosage of abortion pills:

Dosage of abortion pills or in that case, any medicine has to be adjusted according to many patient-specific factors. They may include the patients’ body weight, body mass index (BMI), existence of any liver or kidney disease or taking any interacting medicines that may interact with the working of abortion pills.

If the dose adjustment is not done, there may be risk of an incomplete abortion.

Mode of administration of abortion pills:

The approved abortion pills include two medicines, Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Both the medicines may be administered orally or placed inside the vagina. It is only a certified and registered medical practitioner who may decide the best for the patient.

There may be several factors that need to be considered before prescribing the mode of administration of abortion pills.

In case, the patient-specific parameters are not prioritized and abortion pills are just prescribed to be taken with directions, there may still be chances of incomplete abortion.

Selecting the mode of administration of abortion pills is very important. And there’s a very thin difference while making this choice. It is the experience that may help a doctor choose the best mode of administration for abortion pills.

You can feel free to schedule an appointment at the best abortion hospital for early abortion. In case you wish to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, please do not buy abortion pills or self-administer them. You may not know the risks with self-administration of abortion pills. Incomplete abortion is also one amongst them.

You do have safe, legal and confidential abortion options.

Therefore, while seeking an abortion, seek a safe abortion.

Advantage of visiting AHB for abortion in Bangalore:

Do you know, the doctors at American Hospital Bangalore have more than 45 years of experience?

Therefore, you can expect the best dose and mode of administration advised for your particular case.

You can contact the hospital for a safe, legal and confidential hospital. Remember one thing, there only appointment procedures are considered. So, you should schedule an appointment on call or message before showing up.

The duration of abortion pills:

As mentioned above, two different pills fall under the category of abortion pills. They are both needed for a successful abortion. But they are not meant to be taken together at once as a single dose. No.

The first abortion pill is Mifepristone. It stops the embryo from growing further. It does so by blocking the action of progesterone. This stops the nutrition that the embryo has been deriving.

Now, after a gap of 24-36 hours, the second pill Misoprostol is administered. It starts contractions in the uterus finally evacuating the uterine contents. So, you can expect moderate to heavy bleeding that may or may not be accompanied by pain.

In the case of oral administration, you may be called to the hospital for getting the second abortion pill(s). Or you may be handed over the tablet to be taken orally at home with directions on when to use it and what to expect after that.

However, for vaginal administration, the doctor may ask you to come again for a second appointment.

In case the delay is done in receiving the second pill or if the patient somehow misses to take it on time, there are chances of incomplete abortion.

Standardized medicines:

Although most quality medicines may contain active ingredients with high efficacies. However, the efficacy range may be between 95% to 101%. Hence, it can be expected that the ones with higher assay (medicine efficiency) may yield better results.

So, if you have a prescription and you are left to buy any brand from a pharmacy, it may be better to have one from a reputed company.

Advantage of having a medical abortion at AHB:

Doctors at AHB prescribe and administer only the highest brands in respective domains. Not only the abortion pills but also pain management, post-abortion recovery supplements and other medicines prescribed there belong to the best brands.

Risk of incomplete abortion with the vacuum aspiration method of abortion:

The vacuum aspiration method of abortion is more efficient than the medical abortion method. And hence, many women prefer this even if they have a medical abortion method of abortion available as an early choice.

But it may also be incomplete if not performed with precision. It is a procedure that needs accuracy in both the method and the evaluation. Hence, it must be performed only by the registered medical practitioners who have received the education and training for the same.

What VA abortion is like? The procedure:

In the Vacuum Aspiration method of abortion, suction is used to suck the embryo. A thin medical device is inserted into the womb through the vagina. Suction is applied using an aspirator and the embryo is sucked.

Along with the embryo, the placental tissue and other products of gestation are also aspirated. All the products are collected in a collection bottle.

The products collected are then evaluated to see if the abortion is complete or not.

In case the doctor finds out that not all products have been sucked, then uterine scraping may be done. The doctor gently scrapes the uterine lining to clean the womb. The procedure may be done under anesthesia to make it painless.

It may take nearly 3-10 minutes for the complete procedure.

This is something you might expect only from a certified and registered abortion hospital.

Incomplete VA abortion procedure:

Although it is more efficient, it may be incomplete if suction is not done properly. In case entire conception products are not sucked, the abortion is incomplete. The success of an abortion procedure depends largely on the performing doctor.

Next, even the tools and techniques followed should be efficient.

In case the suction apparatus is faulty or inefficient, then there is a risk of incomplete abortion. If the doctor fails to evaluate all products collected in the bottle, again there may be a risk of incomplete abortion.

And if in a hurry or an unprofessional setting, the scraping is not done for any remaining tissue, again there may be a risk of incomplete abortion.

Note: Scraping is needed only in a few cases where the suction may be incomplete. And in most cases, suction can do the job.

Just like the medical method of abortion, even suction abortion may not be used beyond 12 weeks. By that time, the embryo size has grown larger. And the uterine lining has also thickened. This may taper down the efficiency of the suction procedure with an increase in gestation age.

And hence, all the placental tissue may not get evacuated as expected.

Advantage of having a suction abortion at AHB:

At AHB, not only the doctors are highly qualified and trained, but also, they use the latest medical equipment. They keep upgrading their medical equipment and even expertise by regular international training. Moreover, you can expect sterile equipment used to prevent any chances of infection.

So, their suction abortion procedures are nearly 100% efficient. In addition to the nearly zero risk of incomplete abortion, other abortion risks are also prevented.

Risk of incomplete abortion with Dilatation and Evacuation method of abortion:

This is the surgical abortion method that is prescribed for terminating second-trimester pregnancies. Abortion in India is legal for up to 20 weeks of gestation under normal circumstances. And therefore, this method is adopted for abortions beyond 12 weeks.

In this method, the abortion is done by first dilating the cervix. And then by inserting slender tools from the vagina into the womb and emptying it through scarping and removing.

This method needs high accuracy to be performed the best and also to minimize complications with abortions. If removal of the gestation products is not completed, it may result in an incomplete abortion.

At AHB, D&E abortions are also painless and Gentle care abortions with nearly 100% efficiency. You may schedule an appointment for a second-trimester abortion at the earliest. Delay is what you should never do while seeking an abortion.

Why does an incomplete abortion need immediate treatment?

Although an incomplete abortion is preventable. However, in case of an incomplete abortion, the abortion must be completed. It is done through surgical means where the doctor cleans the womb from any pending pregnancy tissue.

In case the pregnancy remnant tissue remains in the womb for longer, it may lead to infections and even sepsis. Discomfort, pain and bleeding may also continue. Even the hormonal levels may be disrupted.

How is an incomplete abortion treated?

An incomplete abortion is usually treated through surgical means. It is done through the D&E method so that entire placental tissue may be removed and the womb cleaned.

However, in some cases like that of incomplete abortion with the medical method of abortion, another dose of Misoprostol may be given. It is expected that it will make the uterus contract furthermore and hence the evacuation.

But, again the method may or may not work as expected. And it may be better for any woman suffering from an incomplete abortion to have it completed by surgical method.

Complications with an incomplete abortion may be similar to the ones with a surgical abortion. Some of the complications may put your health and life at risk also. Hence, you may need to visit only a reputed abortion hospital for the same.

Some of the complications may include:

  • Hemorrhage (Internal bleeding)
  • Injury to internal organs like uterine rupture, uterine perforation, cervical damage
  • Loss of fertility or reproductive health like the need of subsequent hysterectomy or injury to fallopian tubes or ovaries
  • Again, an incomplete abortion
  • Physical and mental trauma
  • Multisystem organ failure
  • Infections like Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Sepsis in case of severe infections

Many complications with unsafe abortion procedures expose the woman to some acute medical conditions. Some other conditions may be chronic and the woman may have to lead her entire life with a co-existing disease. And some complications may even lead to the patient’s death.

For treating an incomplete abortion complication, you may contact AHB for a gentle care complete abortion. Or you can also schedule an appointment for a safe, legal and confidential abortion in the first place. It may help you prevent incomplete abortion since abortions at AHB are nearly 100% efficient. Besides, you’ll feel medical, emotionally and psychologically supported in your treatment choice. The doctors there may help you make the best acceptable choice for your case.

Since each patient is different and her needs are also different, AHB endeavors to provide personalized Comprehensive abortion Care (CAC) to all the patients.

Related posts:

  1. Failure of contraception: Where to have a safe abortion?
  2. Cost of abortion: Medical vs Surgical methods of abortion
  3. Medical or Suction abortion method: What may be best for you
  4. Private and confidential abortion clinic: Finding the best?
  5. First Trimester Abortion: Everything you may need to know!