Do you know abortion complications are one of the leading causes of maternal death in Ethiopia? 

Abortion is the loss of pregnancy before the embryo (fetus) is able to survive the outside environment. This is usually around four months into the pregnancy. Abortions can be spontaneous, and are commonly referred to as miscarriages, which occur suddenly without any intervention. Induced abortions are when pregnancy is terminated with medical or surgical intervention. Unsafe abortion is when the pregnancy is ended for an unwanted pregnancy either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards or both. In Ethiopia, more than 50% of induced abortions are unsafe.

Globally, there are several controversies about the legality of abortion. In Ethiopia, abortion has been legalized since 2005 within the first four months of pregnancy. The procedure must be performed at a health facility and by a health professional with specific qualifications.

Risk Factors for Abortion

Abortion can happen due to multiple risk factors. However, unwanted or unintended pregnancy is the most common risk factor for unsafe abortion across the continent, while chromosomal issues are the prime cause of spontaneous abortions. Additional risk factors for miscarriages include pregnancy in women older than age 35, previous history of miscarriages, uterine or cervical problems, smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use, and being under or overweight. 

Top complications of abortion

Unsafe abortions are one of the most common causes of maternal mortality, accounting for up to 32% of maternal deaths in Ethiopia. They can affect women of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, educational levels, and marital arrangements.   It can affect women of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, educational levels, and marital arrangements. Abortion has several potential complications, and the following list describes some of the most common problems recorded after abortion:

Massive bleeding occurs when there is physical injury to reproductive parts and the uterus remains dilated after abortion. The bleeding can be severe enough to cause shock, which may require a blood transfusion. 

Infection and sepsis can happen in both spontaneous and induced abortion. When this happens there is remaining tissue which has not been removed after the abortion. The use of unsafe equipment also contributes.

Retained products of the fetus (similar to above) this can present as abdominal pain, fever, blood in stool, nausea and vomiting. 

Bladder Injury which can present as lower abdomen pain and blood in the urine.

Future infertility and challenges with future pregnancy including the baby being born too early, which can result in death of the infant as well as problems with cognition and development.

Psychiatric problems and other mental health issues may also present. In addition to this, the risk of depression, suicide, and substance abuse after abortion may also increase.