Pregnancy Advice and Information

Deciding to end your pregnancy is a personal choice, and no one can, or should, make it for you. With that being said, we strongly suggest that you speak with a counselor before making a decision. Counseling can help you better define your own feelings, and will make sure that you are fully aware of your options: parenting, adoption, and abortion.

Before deciding that an abortion is the right choice for you, it is important to do research on the abortion laws in your state and contact and discuss your options with your OBGYN or an abortion clinic in your area.

Abortion: Types, Effects, & Recommendations

As with adoption and parenting, there are several different types of abortion currently performed in America. Some are “medical,” and involve taking medications that will terminate your pregnancy. Medical abortions are only possible during the first trimester, which lasts from fertilization to around your 13th week of pregnancy. Most medicines approved to induce abortion work by blocking the production of hormones that prepare your body to carry a child to term.

After the first trimester, abortions must be performed surgically, by physically removing the fetus and placenta from your body.

Abortion procedures used during the first trimester:

In most cases you will have a choice between medical or surgical abortion procedures during your first trimester. Medical abortions are only available up through nine weeks gestation.

  • Methotrexate & Misoprostol (MTX): a medical abortion procedure used up to the first seven weeks of pregnancy. The combination of Methotrexate and Misoprostol is not commonly used in the US because of the availability of mifepristone, which works more effectively for this use.
  • Mifepristone & Misoprostol: a medical abortion procedure used up to the first seven to nine weeks of pregnancy. It can also be referred to as RU-486, the abortion pill and Mifeprex.
  • Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA): a procedure used as early as 3 to 12 weeks since the last period. MVA is considered less invasive with only a local anesthesia being used on the cervix.
  • Aspiration: a surgical abortion procedure used to terminate pregnancy up to 16 weeks from the last period. It can also be referred to as suction curettage, dilation and curettage (D&C) or vacuum aspiration.

 

Abortion procedures used during the second trimester:

Medication based abortion procedures are not an option during the second trimester. After the first trimester only surgical based abortion procedures are allowed.

  • Dilation & Curettage (D&C): a surgical abortion procedure used to terminate a pregnancy up to 16 weeks gestation. It is also referred to as suction curettage or vacuum aspiration.
  • Dilation & Evacuation (D&E): a surgical abortion procedure used to terminate a pregnancy after 16 weeks gestation.
  • Induction Abortion: a rarely performed surgical procedure where salt water, urea, or potassium chloride is injected into the amniotic sac; prostaglandins are inserted into the vagina and Pitocin is injected intravenously.

 

Abortion procedures used during the third trimester:

Third Trimester, or late term abortions, are not legal in a number of states except in certain medical situations. The availability of any procedure used in the third trimester is based on the laws of that state.

  • Induction Abortion: a rarely performed surgical procedure where salt water, urea, or potassium chloride is injected into the amniotic sac; prostaglandins are inserted into the vagina and Pitocin is injected intravenously.

 

Abortion’s Side Effects

It’s important to remember that each procedure performed may have different side effects. You should discuss your situation with your doctor about any risks you may face. Remember that only a doctor can perform an abortion and that doctor should evaluate you before having an abortion.

The risks are fewer when an abortion is done in the early weeks of pregnancy. Medical Abortion is a way to end a pregnancy with medicines without a surgical procedure. These abortions can only be used in early pregnancy, usually up to seven weeks though sometimes up to nine weeks from your last menstrual period.

You should not be given the medicines used for a medical abortion if you are too far along, allergic to certain medications, if you have a confirmed or suspected ectopic pregnancy, or if you have an Intrauterine device (IUD) in place.

Physical Side Effects Of Abortion

The more common side effects that last for as long as 2 to 4 weeks following your procedure include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Spotting & bleeding

Although serious complications occur, the following side effects are rare and some are associated with child birth itself:

  • Heavy or persistent bleeding
  • Infection or sepsis
  • Damage to the cervix
  • Scarring of the uterine lining
  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Damage to other organs
  • Death

If your side effects become severe or you experience any of the following you should call your doctor and seek medical attention immediately:

  • Severe abdominal and pack pain that prohibits you from standing up
  • Bleeding that is heavier than a normal menstrual period
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Fever above 100.4 F
  • Continuing symptoms of pregnancy

 

Common Feelings Experienced After Abortions

Some women experience a sense of relief immediately following an abortion. However, this sense of relief is not always permanent. Sometimes a deep feeling of sadness can set in immediately. Some women feel anger, regret, guilt, or sadness for a little while. Sudden shifts in hormones make all of these feelings stronger. Women are more likely to have emotional distress after an abortion if they have a history of emotional distress or have important people in their life who do not support their decision.

Many woman feel as though they are forced to go into a period of stuffing down the sadness and “getting on with life.” The days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years following the decision to have an abortion can result in confusing and emotional distress. What you need to understand is that you are not alone. There are counselors and loved ones who are there to talk to and to offer support.

Some common emotional effects on women after abortion include emotional deadening (meaning the feeling of being less in touch with your emotions), anger or rage, a fear of others learning about the abortion if kept a secret, loneliness or isolation, sexual dysfunctions, denial, insomnia or nightmares, greater difficulty maintaining or developing relationships, or suicidal feelings.

Women who do not grieve the loss fully sometimes experience depression. This depression can manifest itself in small periods of sadness or more full-blown stints of depression. Some women medicate the pain with drugs or alcohol while others become dependent on people or even some have eating disordered behaviors.

Dealing With Your Emotions After An Abortion

So what can you do to prevent your feelings from getting the best of you? Make sure that you find a safe place to talk, share your story, or cry. There are many people to talk to who understand your grief. See if your abortion clinic has support groups or counselors to discuss your feelings with. You also need to give yourself a break. Many times women feel as though they need to be condemned or punished and put it on themselves to do that. Give yourself permission to label the losses you’ve endured and feel the emotions of those losses.

Each woman will have a different experience for each abortion, but the important thing to remember is that you are not alone and there is always someone there to talk to. Abortion providers can talk with you or refer you to a licensed counselor or to nonjudgmental support groups. You can also contact Exhale, a free, after-abortion talk line, that provides confidential and nonjudgmental emotional support, information, and resources for women who have had abortions.

Abortion Recommendations

Below are some recommendations for someone considering an abortion:

Get Help & Support from Professionals – You should communicate with trained professionals when you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, no matter what paths you are considering. The trained professional can answer your questions and discuss your individual circumstances.

Avoid Isolation – You might have the tendency to withdraw from others, to keep the matter a secret or try to face the issue alone. Try to stay connected with family and friends who can support you. Too much isolation during an unplanned pregnancy can lead to depression.

Avoid Pressure – Avoid people who are pressuring you to do what they think is best. Whether you opt to parent, place your baby, or have an abortion, you are the one who has to live with your choice. Only you know what is best for you and the situation you are in.

Talk to Others – See if you can find someone who has gone through an unplanned pregnancy or had an abortion to find out what it was like for them. Getting a personal story can help a great deal when making a decision. Also consider joining a support group for women or couples facing unplanned pregnancies.