Abortion is a medical procedure to effect fetal demise (death of the fetus). As with any medically induced chemical or surgical process, patients are advised to understand the risks of complications and/or side-effects.
Below are some questions commonly asked about abortion.
Q: What are the health risks to having an abortion?
A: Risks of any surgical abortion include hemorrhage, infection, infertility, and complications with future pregnancies (i.e. incompetent cervix).
There may be other risks for you including emotional complications. It is best to seek medical advice before proceeding with any type of surgical procedure. Marisol offers a free medical consultation with no further obligation.
Q: Will my life be the same after an abortion?
A: If you are pregnant, your life has changed already. Whether you choose abortion, adoption or parenting, your life will be quite different a year from now compared to today. Take the time to make your best decision. Marisol offers a free pregnancy consultation to fully explore your options.
Q: How are abortions done?
A: The following is a description of the various types of surgical and chemical abortion procedures currently performed in the United States.
RU-486, or Mifepristone, is a chemical method of inducing abortion. It is taken only when a woman is pregnant, up to seven weeks after the beginning of her last menstrual period.
The drug works by blocking progesterone, a crucial hormone during pregnancy. Without progesterone, the uterine lining does not provide food, fluid and oxygen to the developing fetus.
This procedure requires three visits to the abortion provider. During the first visit a dosage of Mifepristone is taken. Then, two days later, a second drug is taken that stimulates the uterus to contract and expel the fetus. Finally, 12 more days later a follow-up examination is required to ensure the fetus has been expelled.
According to one manufacturer, bleeding and cramping are normal occurrences with this procedure. Side effects may include nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue and back pain. Additionally, one out of 100 women require surgical intervention to stop heavy bleeding. (Ref 1)
(1) "What Every Provider Should Know", MIFEPREX / Danco Laboratories (http://mifeprex.com)
In this method, the cervical muscle is paralyzed and stretched open. A hollow plastic tube with a knifelike edge is inserted into the uterus. Suction is used to remove the fetus, and the placenta is cut from the uterine wall.
Dilation and Curettage (D & C)
This procedure is similar to suction-aspiration, though rather than a suction tube this method relies on a loop-shaped steel knife called a curette. The curette is inserted into the uterus and the fetus and placenta are scraped away. Bleeding can be heavy with this method.
Dilation and Evacuation (D & E)
This type of abortion is done after the third month of pregnancy.
First, the cervix is dilated. Then, e.g., Laminaria sticks (made of sterilized, compressed seaweed) are commonly inserted into the cervix. These sticks absorb moisture and expand. A pliers-like instrument is inserted through the cervix into the uterus and used to tear away parts of the fetus.
Prostaglandin is a hormone that is used to induce labor in mid- and late-term pregnancies. To prevent a live birth, the fetus may be injected with drugs to ensure fetal demise prior to delivery.
Dilation and Extraction (D & X)
This procedure, commonly referred to as "partial-birth" abortion, is also used in mid- and late-term pregnancies (from 4 to 9 months).
First, ultrasound is used to identify how the fetus is facing in the womb. Then, forceps are inserted through the cervical canal into the uterus and used to pull the fetus feet first and face down (breech position). The body is then pulled out of the birth canal, save for the crown of the head. Surgical scissors are inserted into the base of the skull and spread to enlarge the wound and inflict fetal demise. A suction catheter is then inserted into the skull and the brain is removed. Finally, the skull is collapsed, and the dead fetus is fully delivered through the vaginal canal.
Q: I'm feeling guilt from a past abortion. Is this normal?
A: Many women have found that they have feelings of guilt and confusion following abortion. Marisol offers After Abortion Care support groups or individualized lay counseling for men and women to explore and work through these types of emotions.