An Abortion is a medical procedure utilized to terminate or end a pregnancy for various reasons. With today’s legislature, it is now, more than ever, vital that uterus owners understand their options for terminating a pregnancy. Know that you are not alone if you are contemplating an abortion procedure. Currently, there are several different ways to have an abortion. As a consumer, it is crucial to be aware of the variety of methods so you can make an informed decision with your medical provider.
Medical abortion is a deeply personal decision. Whether the intention is to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, a nonviable pregnancy, to prioritize the health and wellbeing of the pregnant person, or for any other reason, knowing your options can help ease the anxiety you may be experiencing. This article outlines the most common types of abortions offered within the United States. Due to our current legislation, each consumer needs to be aware that not all the outlined procedures may be readily available.
In Clinic Abortions:
The first and most common form of abortion is referred to as an In-Clinic Abortion. Under the umbrella of an In-Clinic, abortion are two procedures, with over a 99% success rate. The most significant difference between the two is the time frame of the pregnancy. A Suction Abortion, or a vacuum aspiration, is a procedure completed up to 16 weeks after a missed menstruation. This procedure utilizes a gentle suction to empty the uterus. A Dilation and Evacuation, is a procedure that typically occurs after 16 weeks. This procedure, similar to vacuum aspiration, utilizes suction and other medical means to empty the uterus.
According to Planned Parenthood, the procedure begins with a mental health evaluation and a physical evaluation. Then, a process, similar to an annual pap smear, occurs. This might include medication to assist with pain, help you relax, or open the cervix for a more effortless procedure. Finally, after numbing the uterus, the uterus is stretched with a dilator, and a thin tube is inserted to remove the pregnancy tissue. After that, you spend some time in a recovery area until you are prepared to go home. The actual process of the medical abortion is about 10 minutes. The prep for the procedure is the longest part. In many clinics, you can bring someone to help support you during the process.
The “Abortion Pill”
The second type of medical abortion is what is frequently called the abortion pill. What this refers to are two common medications that can be prescribed to terminate a pregnancy, Mifepristone, and Misoprostol. These medications are prescribed and consumed in a sequence. You begin by taking Mifepristone to block the body’s natural progesterone (a hormone vital to a pregnancy’s growth). This stops the progression of the pregnancy.
Then the second medication, misoprostol, is taken. This medication causes the body to cramp and bleed to terminate the pregnancy and empty the uterus. This is described as a similar process to an early miscarriage. While the “abortion pill” is considered very effective, it truly depends on how far along the pregnancy you are before taking the medication. Planned Parenthood reports an effectiveness rate of 91%-99%, depending on how far along the pregnancy is.
Things to Keep in Mind
While the type of abortion procedure you choose depends on personal preference and medical situation, each method has pros and cons. With an in-clinic abortion, many individuals prefer it as it is typically a quick procedure (10 minutes), and you are surrounded by medically trained staff to support you. In addition, many clinics can insert an IUD immediately after the procedure, with consent.
The ability to bring a supportive friend with you is also preferred. Subsequently, the abortion pill is preferred by some as you do not need to be in a sterile, hospitalized setting for the procedure, and you can be in the comfort of your own home or preferred place. Others find it less invasive or natural, as the effects mirror a miscarriage. However, it can be a long process, with many reporting the passing of tissue 4-5 hours with cramping up to 2 days after the initial dose.
With every medical procedure, there are risks involved. However, a medical abortion, under the supervision of a doctor, has decreased risks. It is essential to be honest with your provider about your medical history and any relevant familial medical history. This can help further reduce the risks involved. Keep in mind that there are fewer long-term and fatal risks associated with abortion than there are for a sustained pregnancy. Currently, the most common risks associated with this procedure are heavy and prolonged bleeding, fever, infection, digestive system discomfort (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.), and continued pregnancy. If the abortion is unsuccessful, and the decision to maintain the pregnancy is made, there are additional risks for the developing uterus.
How to Prepare
No matter the reason for this procedure, it can take a toll on mental and physical health. Once you have decided on your preferred option, take some time to mentally prepare for this journey. Prepare for what you need after the procedure. Stockpile what you need so that you don’t have to think about it later. Whether doing the procedure in the clinic or at home, going grocery shopping after the procedure is the last thing you need to do.
Grab your favorite snacks and any over-the-counter pain medication you think may help, and plan for some time on the couch. Remember to buy a pack of maxi pads, at least a size or two bigger than your regular size (size 3 or 4 is recommended), to help with the bleeding. If opting for the abortion pill, it may be helpful to pick up your go-to cold/flu remedies. Chicken noodle soup, Gatorade, and ginger ale at your service! This may be some time when you can utilize your favorite self-care to help with recovery. Think about catching up on your Netflix binge, reading a good book, or playing your favorite game. Whatever you think will help you in the recovery period to provide comfort or distraction.
It may be helpful to make plans to bring a member of your support system. They can hold your hand in the clinic or at home (or both!) and provide a familiar comfort. Some individuals prefer to be alone, and that’s okay too. Be kind to yourself during this time. This vulnerable situation can cause some uneasy feelings to pop up. If you are feeling anxious, remember that you are in charge. This means you can change your mind up until the start of the procedure.
It is your body, and you are in control.
There is no right or wrong way to feel but be kind to yourself about what comes up. If the feelings remain, think about talking to a mental health professional in your area to help you process the emotions present. When it comes to medical abortions, there are several options. All with their own sets of pros and cons. It is up to you and your healthcare team to decide the best avenue for you. This is a deeply personal decision and can be emotionally and physically draining. Remember to take time for yourself; as always, you are in control: Your Body, Your Decision.
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