N.B. This article is aimed at equipping people with the knowledge of what goes on in an abortion, what are the risks associated, and to remind people to go to a licensed healthcare provider if they decide to go through with a termination of pregnancy. This article is DOES NOT weigh the pros and cons of abortion nor is it aimed at persuading people to decide on abortion. It also does not replace individualised advice from a healthcare provider. If you are thinking about abortion, please discuss this with a doctor.
Abortion, also known as termination of pregnancy (TOP), is a medical process to prevent the birth of a child. The options vary depending on the number of weeks you are pregnant. The methods include oral medication and surgery. You should discuss the options with your doctor who will be able to recommend the best treatment for you. Informed consent should also be taken before proceeding with the treatment.
Please note that the laws on abortion vary according to countries and even across states. In countries and/or states where abortion is legal, there is usually no minimum or maximum age for the procedure and there is no need for parental consent for minors. Termination of pregnancy should only be carried out by authorised medical professionals. If your doctor is unable to carry out the procedure for you, he/she/they should direct you to the right medical professional. You should not be turned away without a reason and you have the right to terminate a pregnancy without fear of judgment.
For oral medication, guidelines vary according to the country. Usually, it occurs during the early stages of pregnancy such as 9 weeks and below. Your doctor may first prescribe a medication known as mifepristone, which will soften and dilate the cervix (the opening of the uterus). The next medication (known as misoprostol) is given, which not only softens and dilates the cervix but also causes contractions of the uterus. Both medications may also be given in combination. Other types of medications include methotrexate. It is recommended that you take a few days off from work or school as there will be heavy bleeding and some abdominal pain for a few days. If the oral medications fail to work, surgical options are recommended.
Surgery involves suction curettage, a process whereby a tube is inserted through the vagina into the uterus and the lining of the wound is gently removed via suction. This process will be done under anaesthesia so it will be painless.
Side effects of these procedures include excessive bleeding, and rarely in legal abortion clinics, infection or damage to the cervix or womb. It is a safe procedure when it is done in a registered health service. Your future pregnancy will not be affected - you will still be able to have children in the future if you want to.
Most doctors will schedule a follow up appointment a few weeks after the initial appointment to ensure that abortion is successful. They may sometimes repeat the pregnancy test to measure the level of b-HCG (a type of hormone that indicates pregnancy) but it is not always necessary. Menstruation should return several weeks later. Contraception counselling should be given by your doctor.
Abortions are usually safe if they are done in a registered clinic. DO NOT go to unauthorised clinics or doctors for abortions. Unsafe abortions are associated with serious health risks including infections and infertility and may even cause deaths.
If you need someone to talk to, please consult a doctor or contact the local support helplines.
For more information, please visit: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/preventing-unsafe-abortion