When facing an unplanned pregnancy, abortion may seem like your only option. However, before you move forward with this choice, you should educate yourself about abortion. Here are the 5 things you should know before you have an abortion.
1. If You Are Really Pregnant
It’s very common for women to mistake perfectly normal symptoms and conditions for signs of pregnancy. Our center can help you determine whether or not you’re really pregnant with a free, confidential pregnancy test and limited ultrasound. This allows us to see whether you’re pregnant and how far along you are, which determines what pregnancy and abortion options you have.
2. How Far Along You Are
We offer a free limited obstetric ultrasounds to determine how far along you are and if your pregnancy is healthy. How far along you are will determine what pregnancy and abortion options are available to you.
3. The Pros & Cons of Your Decision
You have a legal right to choose the outcome of your pregnancy. However, considering an abortion may be personal and difficult. Our staff and volunteers are specifically trained to provide you with confidential help and can answer your questions regarding the type or nature of abortion procedures.
4. If You Have a Sexual Disease
It is important to determine if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). If you choose an abortion with an untreated STI, you can be at high risk for infection and complications. We can provide you with STI information including information on where you can obtain free or low-cost testing.
5. The Emotional Risks Involved with Abortion
An abortion is a medical procedure that cannot be undone. There are different abortion procedures depending on how far along you are in this pregnancy. Each procedure has medical and psychological or emotional risks. We can provide information regarding abortion procedures and risks. Also, for women who need emotional support after an abortion, we have trained personnel who can help.
Methods of Abortion
RU486, commonly known as mifepristone or the “Abortion Pill,” is a common method of terminating a pregnancy. RU486 is only approved for use in women up to the 49 days after their last period - it is not available to all women.
This abortion method usually takes three office visits. On the first visit, you will be given pills to terminate your pregnancy. On the second visit, you will be given another drug which causes cramping and uterine contractions, which expels the embryo from your body. Finally, you will need to get an ultrasound at a third appointment to verify the abortion succeeded.
Unlike RU486, Manual Vacuum Aspiration is a surgical abortion method that is immediately effective but also much more invasive. MVA can only be performed early in your pregnancy - within seven weeks of your last period.
In an MVA procedure, a long, thin tube is inserted into your uterus. The doctor attaches a syringe to the end of the tube and suctions the embryo out. MVA can cause discomfort, cramping and bleeding. You may also need a second appointment for ultrasound verification that your pregnancy was terminated. Most Manual Vacuum Aspiration procedures only take 10 to 15 minutes, but appointments can last up to two hours to allow for monitoring and recovery.
Suction and Curettage is the most common surgical abortion procedure. It can be performed later into your pregnancy than MVA or RU486.
First, the doctor will manually open your cervix using a device called a tenaculum and several absorbent rods. This must be done in order to allow the parts of the developing fetus to pass through. Opening the cervix can be painful, so most doctors will use local or general anesthetics to prevent extreme discomfort. After the doctor opens your cervix, he or she will insert a hard plastic tube into your uterus, and then connect this tube to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus’ body apart and out of your uterus. The doctor may also use a curette - a thin, loop-shaped knife - to scrape the fetus and fetal parts out of the uterus.
The procedure may take as little as 15 minutes, but you may need to spend several hours at the clinic for observation and recovery. You may also need to take antibiotics after the procedure to prevent infection. Suction and Curettage also commonly causes cramps, bleeding, and abdominal tenderness for several days after the procedure.
Dilation and Evacuation is one of the most involved and invasive surgical abortion procedures. Because this procedure is only used later in your pregnancy, it can have several extreme side effects and requires considerable expertise.
Dilation and Evacuation (or D&E) can be performed up to 24 weeks, or approximately six months, after your last period. At this point in pregnancy, your fetus will be too large for a suction machine to function properly. As a result, your doctor will need to first dilate your cervix extensively. One method for doing this is using thin, absorbent rods that expand over time. These rods are inserted into your cervix one or two days before your abortion procedure, where they are allowed to swell and dilate your cervix.
On the day of your procedure, your doctor will first give you a local or general anesthetic to prevent discomfort. Then he or she will use a tenaculum and cone-shaped rods to further dilate your cervix. Once your cervix is stretched open, the doctor will use a suction tube, a curette, and sometimes forceps to remove the fetus from your uterus.
In more advanced pregnancies, your doctor may use forceps or a suction device to evacuate the cranium of your fetus and implode its skull, easing removal. D&E procedures can take 15 to 30 minutes to complete, and require several hours of recovery afterward. They also commonly result in nausea, bleeding, and cramping for days or weeks after the procedure. In some cases D&E can result in damage to your uterine lining or cervix, which may make it harder for you to become pregnant in the future.
Make Sure You’re Informed
Abortion isn’t a simple, risk-free procedure. Please contact us for more information or to speak to a nurse about your options.