The kind of abortion treatment you have will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are which can be determined by accurate pregnancy testing. The different family planning options will be discussed in full at your abortion clinic consultation so that you can make an informed choice about your unplanned pregnancy.
Early Medical Abortion:
The Abortion Pill
With the abortion pill, three or four visits are necessary to complete the termination treatment. The ‘abortion pill’ (also called RU486) is available before 9 weeks of pregnancy and provides an early abortion alternative to surgery. Two different drugs are used to cause a miscarriage.
Not all women are suitable for medical abortion and you will not be able to choose this method if:
- You are over 35 and smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day
- You have a suspected ectopic pregnancy
- You have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, liver or kidney disease
- You are taking long-term corticosteroids
- You have an IUD in place which will not be removed
- You have adrenal failure
- You are taking anti-coagulants or have any hemorrhagic disease or porphyria
- You have poorly controlled inflammatory bowel disease.
Some women feel that the abortion pill is more ‘natural’ than a surgical abortion, while others feel that the process takes too long. The abortion treatment choice is up to you, and you can make the decision after receiving proper abortion advice.
Before 12 weeks pregnancy
Surgical abortion is the most common type of abortion and is a simple procedure where gentle suction is used to empty the uterus. It is possible to have a choice of anaesthetic although in the early stages of pregnancy many women choose to have no anaesthetic or light sedation.
Some discomfort may be experienced by women who opt for surgical abortion which can be like a very strong period pain.
Surgical dilatation and evacuation (D& E) –from about 12/15 to 24 weeks of pregnancy
Your cervix is gently stretched and opened (this is known as dilatation) so that the pregnancy can be removed. You usually need a general anaesthetic.
What sort of anaesthesic will I have?
If you have a surgical termination of pregnancy you may be offered:
- a local anaesthetic (around the area of your cervix), or
- a general anaesthetic, or
- conscious sedation – this uses a drug that makes you sleepy but means that you stay conscious during the procedure.
Source: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists