The Dangers and Long-term Health Risks of “Natural” Abortions

Dr. Kacy MichelBy: Kacy Michel, PhD- Client Services Director, Uptown Women’s Center

 While the ‘natural’ or ‘green’ trend is seen everywhere from soaps to toilet paper to cosmetics, there is a new trend appearing in which women attempt to give themselves so-called “natural” (or self-induced) abortions. While academics first took note of ‘natural’ abortions beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, there has been a recent resurgence in the number of women attempting such acts. This post will discuss various methods of ‘natural’ abortion, give short and long-term health risks associated with such a practice, and suggest guidelines on how to properly seek healthcare in the event of pregnancy.

There are a plethora of websites devoted to giving women step-by-step instructions for how to perform these ‘natural’ abortions. These methods include ingesting copious amounts of Vitamin C via supplements and food sources like papaya, pineapple, and tangerines (Boldsky, 2013), taking a concoction of cinnamon, black, and blue cohosh (n.d., 2014), and swallowing herbs such as Dong Quai, Tansy, Pennyroyal (n.d., 2014). Others way to induce a ‘natural’ abortion deal with lifting very heavy weights, walking up several flights of stairs, and exercising for more than 4 hours daily (Boldsky, 2013). Some women even turn to black market drugs and potions like Cytotec that can result in hemorraging and in certain cases death (Hellerstein, 2014).

Dangers of a ‘natural’ abortion are varied. For one, ingesting a very large amount of certain herbs or vitamins can result in toxicity. Also, taking something like quinine or other dangerous substances can result in death of the mother and congenital abnormalities (i.e. birth defects) for a child (Smith, 1998). Pennyroyal can cause severe hepatotoxicity, disseminated intravascular coagulation, shock, and death (Smit

h, 1998). If Tansy is taken internally, it can result in convulsions and psychotic reactions (Smith, 1998).


Furthermore, performing ‘natural’ abortions may potentially result in infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, and in some cases death. Also, since many of these herbs and substances have not undergone the FDA review process, it is unknown the long-term health implications of taking such substances.

A few tips to remember:

1)      If you are pregnant, make sure to have a lab-grade pregnancy test as well as a sonogram. Only after confirming a viable pregnancy via a sonogram can you be sure you aren’t having a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or blighted ovum. We perform all of these services at the Uptown Women’s Center.

2)      Make sure to be seen by licensed professional healthcare workers. You may have a positive result on a home pregnancy test, but you still need to see a professional healthcare worker in order to confirm your pregnancy. We have licensed registered nurses and sonographers on staff waiting to assist you.

3)      Realize that attempting a ‘natural’ abortion may leave the surviving child with life-long special needs and health issues.

4)      Previous cases of women attempting this act have resulting in infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and even death (Hellerstein, 2014).

5)      Use common sense. Does exercising more than 4 hours a day or ingesting herbal concoctions even sound like a good idea? If something sounds harmful or dangerous, don’t subject your body to it.

6)      Be smart! Not everything that claims it is ‘natural’ is actually beneficial for you or your body.


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