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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Septic Abortion

Septic Abortion

Alternate Names : Infected Abortion

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

A septic abortion is an abortion associated with an infection inside a pregnant woman's uterus. An abortion is the expulsion of fetal contents from a woman's uterus. An abortion may be spontaneous, which is referred to as a miscarriage. It may also be an elective surgical or medical abortion, meaning the woman chose to terminate her pregnancy.

What is going on in the body?

The uterus of a pregnant woman is normally protected by a plug of mucus in the cervix, as well as the membranes surrounding the fetus. A septic abortion can occur when bacteria enter the uterus through the mucus plug. These bacteria can be introduced by unclean tools used during an elective abortion. The bacteria may also be those that normally live in a woman's vagina. If the woman has a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as chlamydia, the bacteria causing the STD can infect the uterus.

The infection can spread through the fetal tissue to the lining of the uterus. It may go into the muscles of the uterus or beyond that to other nearby organs. If the infection reaches the bloodstream, it is called sepsis.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

A septic abortion may be caused by any of the following factors:

  • the membranes surrounding the fetus have ruptured, sometimes without being detected
  • the woman has a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia
  • an intrauterine device (IUD) was left in place during the pregnancy
  • tissue from the fetus or placenta is left inside the uterus after a miscarriage or abortion
  • attempts were made to end the pregnancy, often illegally, by inserting tools, chemicals, or soaps into the uterus


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    Septic Abortion: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eva Martin, MD
    Reviewer: Barbara Mallari, RN, BSN, PHN
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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