If you are considering an abortion, it is important to equip yourself with as much knowledge as you can about the procedure, the risks, and the effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. There are several different types of abortion procedures available depending on your health and how far along your pregnancy is.
What you need to do before you have an abortion
Before you have an abortion, you will need to take a pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy. Then, you will meet with a nurse, doctor, or health center counselor to discuss whether abortion is the right decision for you and what options are available to you. You will then need to get an ultrasound to determine how far along you are and whether you have a viable pregnancy.
Mya Women’s Center can provide you with a free pregnancy test, ultrasound and even can discuss your pregnancy options with you in a private, non-judgmental environment. We know that abortion is a tough decision, no matter your reasons, so we can give you the information you need to make an educated choice about your next steps.
What type of abortion procedure is available to me?
The Abortion Pill
The abortion pill is a mostly out-patient procedure in which you self-administer a series of pills that terminate the pregnancy. Before receiving this pill, you will need to meet with a nurse or doctor to be examined and to discuss your options. Once you decide to use the abortion pill, you will be given the pills and instructions on how to take them.
Because there is a lot of bleeding and discomfort that you may experience after you have taken the pills, many suggest stocking up on maxi-pads, pain medication, and food prior to taking the pills. It is a good idea to have someone with you or on-call in case you need support. Many suggest using a heating pad to help alleviate cramping and discomfort.
The first medication you will take is mifepristone. This medication stops the pregnancy from growing. Many women experience nausea after taking this pill. You may also be given an antibiotic to fight against any infection that may occur after the procedure. You may start bleeding after taking mifepristone, but it is not very common.
The second pill you will take is misoprostol. This will be taken up to 48 hours after the first pill and your doctor or nurse will give you instructions about when you should take it. This medicine will induce cramping and bleeding about one to four hours after taking the pill to empty your uterus. It is normal to discharge blot clots and clumps of tissue during this process. This process usually lasts about four to five hours, but it is normal for your body to take longer to evacuate all of the pregnancy tissue. The cramping may last a couple of days after you take the pill.
You are able to take pain medication to help manage the cramping and anti-nausea medication if provided by your doctor or nurse. It is important to avoid aspirin, as it may increase your bleeding. Other symptoms you may experience are:
- Upset stomach or vomiting
- Mild fever
You will need to follow up with your doctor or nurse to ensure that the abortion is complete and that you don’t develop an infection.
Suction abortion or vacuum aspiration
Suction abortions, also called vacuum aspiration, are the most common type of in-clinic abortion. Before the procedure, you will take pain medication to help with the cramping. Depending on where you choose to get the procedure, sedation may be an option for you. You will also take an antibiotic to prevent infection after the procedure.
Your cervix will need to be dilated before the procedure and there are different ways that your nurse or doctor might do this. Laminaria, small sticks made of seaweed, are placed in your cervix a couple of hours or even a day before your procedure. They slowly expand by absorbing your bodily fluids, thus stretching your cervix. In some cases, the doctor or nurse may use medication to open your cervix instead.
Usually, there are two people in the room during an abortion. The doctor or nurse performing the abortion and a nurse or staff member to assist in the procedure and offer you support during the abortion.
The doctor or nurse will insert a speculum into your vaginal canal. He or she will examine your uterus, then insert a thin tube through the dilated opening in your cervix and into your uterus. Using suction, he or she will remove the pregnancy tissue from your uterus. They may also use a curette to ensure that all the tissue is removed. The procedure should only take between five and 10 minutes. After the procedure, you will stay in a recovery area until you feel like you are ready to leave.
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)
D&E is typically only used for abortions that happen 16 weeks after your last period. The doctor or nurse will use the same cervix dilation process from vacuum aspiration abortion. For abortion later in the pregnancy, you may receive a shot through your abdomen before the doctor or nurse begins the procedure.
You will receive pain medication to mitigate the cramping and sedation may be an option, depending on your provider. Some sedation simply relaxes you while you are still awake, while others will make you fall completely asleep. You will also take an antibiotic to prevent any post-operation infections.
There are typically two people in the room during your procedure. The doctor or nurse performing the abortion and another staff member or nurse to support you and assist the first doctor or nurse.
The doctor will follow the same steps as a vacuum aspiration abortion. He or she will insert a speculum and examine your uterus. He or she will then inject a numbing agent into your cervix. They will then insert a small tube into your uterus and use a series of medical tools and suction to remove the pregnancy tissue. This procedure usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. You will then stay in a recovery room for about an hour or until you feel ready to leave.
If you are facing an unexpected pregnancy and are considering abortion, it is important to empower yourself with information about all of your options. Make an appointment at Mya Women’s Center to equip yourself with all the information you need to make a confident, educated decision.
Dr. Richard A. Zinni
D.O. Certified In Internal Medicine
The content on this page has been reviewed and approved by our Medical Director: Dr. Richard A. Zinni