Abortion sounds like an ominous term. This is because the media has portrayed it in such a negative way. The issues regarding the legalization of abortions have also created a fuss and a blurry picture of what it actually means. Abortion does not mean the illegal murder of an unborn baby. It is a medical term and we should perceive or understand it in that regard. We will try to paint a picture that is easy for you to understand.
Abortion technically means termination of pregnancy; this can be natural or induced. If the pregnancy cannot be maintained for some specific reasons and has to be terminated, the doctors use medications or surgical interventions and the unformed embryo passes through the birth canal.
Natural abortion means that the baby was not able to hold onto the walls of the womb. And the embryo passes out from the vagina on its own. Natural abortions include multiple types such as spontaneous abortion, threatened abortion, etc. The thing important for you to know is that if you witness bleeding, crampy abdominal pain and flesh coming out of your vagina, the baby might be aborting on its own and it is time to check with the doctor.
Some women do not even realize that their baby has passed out. Their pregnancy gets terminated even before their discovery of it. This is completely natural.
Induced abortion means that the process of termination of pregnancy is started by external stimuli. It can be done through medications or surgical procedures. The reasons for induced abortions include (but not limited to):
- Unplanned pregnancy
- Pregnancy occurring after rape/assault
- Patient not capable of carrying a pregnancy (disabled patient)
- Very young patient
- Fetus having no head
- Fetus having congenital birth defects which will lead to a life-long disability
- Pregnancy posing a life-threatening risk to the mother’s health
You should carefully discuss with your doctor and your partner before taking the decision of induction of abortion.
It is very important that abortion is carried out under strict monitoring of a health care provider. Unsafe abortions, done without proper consultant and supervision, can cause death of the mother! Healthy abortions are legal and can help you lead a happier life. Healthy abortions can give your future pregnancies a better shot at life too!
The term medical abortion technically means that the medicines are given to terminate the pregnancy. You can have these medications in oral form or even through an intravenous line or skin patches.
The different medications that can be used are:
Careful maintenance of dosage is important, which is determined based on your age, health and the week of pregnancy that you are in.
A doctor gives medications under his/her supervision to start contractions of the uterus. These contractions cause the fetus to pass out. They also disturb the hormonal mechanisms that maintain a healthy pregnancy which helps with the termination.
Signs and Symptoms:
You will start feeling crampy abdominal pain and bleeding with clots. Some women might not find them disturbing but they can be very scary for most of the females. Proper tracking of the bleeding is necessary. Excess bleeding can lead to anemia, shock, lightheadedness, etc. People already suffering from low blood counts should be very careful!
Heavy bleeding, headaches, nausea, etc. can occur as side effects. These side effects are usually manageable. They subside on their own in a week or two. If you are still experiencing unpleasant side effects, check in with your doctor for medications that might provide symptomatic relief. Home remedies can work as well.
Other techniques that the doctors most commonly employ are suction and curettage or evacuation and curettage. In these methods, a doctor uses suction or evacuating forceps to clear out the uterus and then they use the curette to perform fine cleaning. Only an expert or certified health care provider should do it because retained products of conception can cause unstoppable bleeding, infections, removal of uterus and death.
When is it safe to get a medical abortion?
The first trimester is the ideal and safest time to get a medical abortion. A sonogram done by an expert health care provider can help you decide whether you should get an abortion or not. Week 7 to 10 are the safest and easiest to get an abortion. But it can be done up to 24 weeks. The decision to use medication or surgical intervention depends upon your trimester/weeks and health conditions.
Where should I go for a medical abortion?
Check-in with your regular family doctor or OB/GYN. It is the safest option. But if you do not want them to find out, or you have other reservations, you can schedule an appointment with any health care physician/ ultrasound specialist/ OB/GYN. A proper discussion, examination, and sonogram are necessary pre-requisites.
If you do not like your doctor’s advice, you can get other opinions as well. You can visit facilities like Planned Parenthood. But please, for the love of God, do not indulge in unsafe practices that can put your life at risk!
Unsafe abortion practices that can cause severe infections and death include;
- Using house-hold substances to perform interventional abortions
- Taking medicine on your own
- Having a non-expert person prescribe you medications
- Not taking any friend/loved one in confidence
Avoid these situations for your own life and for your loved ones. Always practice safe sexual encounters and never forget to use protection.
In conclusion, medical abortion is nothing to be scared of or dreaded. Some women require medical abortion for the safety and well being of their future babies and themselves! The important thing to remember is that one must always be careful. The use of protection and contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies is the best way to avoid all this pain. But if you do need an abortion, safe practices and careful decisions can protect your life. Do your research before going to a clinic and be aware of what you are getting into.