Things You Need to Know Before Opting for Abortion
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Sep 23, 2020
Abortion is a common procedure that has been considered by many women for various reasons. It is usually a safe procedure with few to no complications. It is all right for you to get an abortion done, as it is your body, and you know what is best for it. But, before making a decision, it is best if you know everything you must regarding an abortion.
What is an Abortion?
Abortion is basically terminating your pregnancy. This can be done either by removing the foetus or by expelling it. If the abortion occurs without any form of intervention, then it is considered to be a miscarriage, or “spontaneous abortion.” Miscarriages occur in about 30-50% of pregnancies.
Sometimes when the mother chooses to end her pregnancy, then it is called an induced miscarriage. Usually, when people talk about abortion, they refer to induced abortion.
Is Abortion Safe?
Abortion is one of the safest procedures in medicine, but there are cases where abortion has led to maternal death. This is because the procedure wasn’t done in a safe environment. In some countries or states, since abortion is illegal, mothers use unsafe methods to go seek the treatment.
Besides surgery, a combination of drugs and hormonal medications are also used to induce abortion in early stages of pregnancy, i.e. first trimester and early on in the second trimester.
The surgical method used for abortion is called the dilation and curettage, where the cervix is dilated, and the foetus is suctioned outside the uterus.
When done with proper consent, with legal measures and safety, there is a decreased risk of long-term mental or physical problems in the mother. At the same time, abortions that are performed illegally, by unskilled professionals with unsafe equipment or unsanitary facilities cause complications and deaths.
What are Common Types of Abortion?
As mentioned earlier, there are two main types of abortion. There is induced abortion, where the mother deliberately takes steps to cause an abortion or spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, where it occurs due to certain factors.
Induced abortions are further classified into;
Therapeutic - This is done if the foetus or mother may have a health condition. This includes anything that could pose a risk to the life of the pregnant woman, harm her physical or mental health, increased chance of morbidity and mortality in the child, or reduce the number foetuses in the case of multiple pregnancies.
Elective - If the mother chooses to do abortion for other reasons besides health risks
Almost one-third of the pregnancies that occur in the world are unintended. And most abortions are a result of such unintended pregnancy, while a few of them are due to genetic problems with the foetus.
There are several by which women can induce abortions. The method used to do so will depend on the level of development of the embryo or the foetus, which increases in size as the pregnancy progresses. Procedures vary depending on laws, regional availability and the personal preference of either the women or the doctor.
The procedure involved is mainly surgical intervention or oral medications.
Spontaneous abortion, or what is commonly known as miscarriage, is a condition where the body expels the embryo without any external intervention. Mothers do not intend for a miscarriage. Miscarriages can occur up until the 24th week of pregnancy.
If the pregnancy is terminated before 37 weeks of pregnancy and results in a live-born infant, then it is called a premature birth or preterm birth. There is another condition where the foetus dies inside the uterus or during delivery; such a case is called a stillbirth. Neither stillbirth nor preterm birth can be classified as miscarriage.
Miscarriages usually occur in the first trimester due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo or the foetus. Besides that, spontaneous abortions could occur due to vascular diseases, hormonal problems, diabetes, infection, uterine abnormalities, etc. Miscarriages could also occur due to physical trauma. There are situations where women may subject the foetus to intentional physical trauma in order to cause a miscarriage; this is considered as an induced abortion or foeticide.
A woman is at a greater risk of having a miscarriage if she has had previous occurrences of the same or if she is of advanced maternal age.
What is the procedure used for Induced Abortions
There are various ways by which abortions are performed in clinics. The procedure used depends on factors such as hoe=w far along are you in your pregnancy, your preference, the doctor’s preference, laws, etc.
If you’re in the first trimester of your pregnancy (i.e. 1-3 months), then you will be subjected to vacuum aspiration, while a woman who is in the second trimester (i.e. 3-6 months) is subjected to dilation and evacuation. If you are further along in your pregnancy, then the procedure that would be used is Dilation and Extraction.
Vacuum Aspiration (Suction Abortion)
This form of abortion is recommended to women who are anywhere under three months into their pregnancies. It is also called as suction abortion.
Depending on how far along you are, the doctor may or may not prep your cervix. The preparation done involves opening the cervix to access the uterus as well as absorbing the moisture in the area and expanding it.
Next, the vagina is kept open using a tool called the speculum, following which it will be sterilised using an antiseptic solution. You may opt to be sedated for the procedure.
The doctor then inserts a small tube into your uterus. This tube is either attached to a hand-held syringe or a suction machine, which helps clear out the contents in your uterus.
The doctor then conducts scans and tests to affirm the success of the procedure and may keep you around for observation.
Dilation and Evacuation
This procedure is performed on women who are in the second trimester of their pregnancy.
Before the procedure, the doctor dilates your cervix using tools to avoid injury, as well as use Laraia sticks to remove moisture and expand the area. Medications are provided to help soften your uterus.
As in vacuum aspiration, your vaginal will be sterilised with antiseptic and local anaesthesia will be injected to the area. A vacuum suction tool will also be used, but along with it other medical tools such as forceps, curette (to scrape the inside of your uterus), etc. will be used. While performing the procedure, doctors use an ultrasound machine to guide themselves inside the uterus. Some medical professionals also inject the medication that stops the foetal heartbeat, as well as medication that helps contact your uterus, which in turn will reduce the bleeding.
Dilation and Extraction
If you have crossed your second trimester, then doctors use the dilation and extraction method to remove the foetus from the uterus. This is also called a late-term abortion. This procedure is only performed if the foetus or the mother are going through certain complications or similar such situations.
The procedure follows similar steps to that of a dilation and evacuation, and you will be sedated with general anaesthesia. Doctors may also induce labour or perform hysterotomy or hysterectomy. These options are considered only if it is extremely necessary, as they are usually risky.
After the procedure
Once you have gone through with the abortion, you will experience some cramping or light bleeding, which may last up to 2 weeks. These conditions can be managed using over-the-counter drugs or prescription painkillers.
Take the day off after you are done with the procedure. If possible, take rest for a few more days.
Your doctor may also instruct you regarding using a tampon, having sexual intercourse as your vagina shouldn’t be touched for a month after the procedure. If your pain is severe, or if you have a fever, or if your bleeding is heavy, then immediately contact your health provider as these are signs of complications.
Set up a follow-up appointment to affirm successful termination of pregnancy, as well as to look for signs of any infection.
Why do people decide to have an abortion?
It is understandable that you will be going through many disturbing thoughts before considering an abortion. You might even feel alone and sacred, as a society usually has its own perception about abortions. But the truth is that many women have considered abortion and have also gone through with the procedure.
Always remember that it is your body, and you have all the right to make the decision. No matter how simple or complicated the reason behind it is.
Here are a few reasons as to why people choose to abort:
The mother is not ready to be a parent.
They want to be the perfect parent to the kids they already have
They are not at a good point in their life to have a baby.
They have other priorities, which cannot be fulfilled if they choose to go forward with the pregnancy. This includes work, career, goals, etc.
They are in an abusive relationship, or they have been sexually assaulted.
The pregnancy poses health risks.
The baby may not survive the pregnancy or have low chances of survival after birth.
These are just a few common reasons why mothers decide to abort. There are many more reasons as to why people choose to terminate their pregnancy. Taking this decision doesn't take away anything from you. It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad parent.
And if you have too many doubts, you can consult a health professional or someone who you trust to help you make this decision.
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