When a woman or teenager is contemplating having an abortion, she may wonder what the procedure will be like and what she may expect to have happen. If you are pregnant and want to know more about the options available to you, here’s a thumbnail sketch about the subject.
It is important to note that no surgical abortions can be performed less than 6 to 7 weeks after the first day of your last period. Those who find out they are pregnant sooner may wish to opt for a non-surgical abortion using pills. The pills will keep the fetus from gaining a strong hold on the uterus and thereby cause it to abort; however, pills are no longer an option if you are more than 7 weeks along and that’s when you’ll need to opt for a surgical procedure.
A surgical abortion is a minor out-patient medical procedure, but because it is a medical procedure you should be sure to have it performed by doctors at a proper facility.
You will make at least three visits to the medical facility, the longest of which will be the first. During that visit, you will be given a pregnancy test along with a subsequent ultrasound that will determine how far along you are in the pregnancy. This is a necessary safeguard because it will ensure that you are a viable candidate for a surgical abortion. You will also be given counseling about abortion to explain what will happen and to determine your feelings and attitudes toward the procedure. If your pregnancy is an early one, you will undergo the procedure on your next visit; if you are between 16 and 19 weeks, your second visit will be used for a cervical dilation procedure that will help to make the abortion go smoothly on the next day.
General anesthesia is not used, and so there is no need to fear the effects of “being under.” You will be awake, but you will definitely be sedated and may be offered the option of nitrous oxide to help keep you comfortable during the procedure. You may feel nothing at all or you may feel a bit of cramping: every individual is different. The doctor will dilate the cervix, and then insert a suction device called a cannula that will extract your uterus and its contents thereby ending the pregnancy. Some women experience further cramping for a few days after the procedure, but it is generally mild.
Physical recuperation is short; however you may be dealing with some strong emotions in the days and weeks afterward. Counseling during your follow up visit can be extremely helpful, but if you experience severe depression you’ll need to get further help. Making a decision to end an unplanned pregnancy is never a simple or an easy one: make sure to consult fully with medical professionals and other helpful professionals to make sure it is the right choice for you.
Dmitry Bronfman, MD, is a board-certified gynecologist who specializes in all aspects of contemporary women’s health, preventive medicine, pelvic pain, minimally invasive and robotic surgery, and general, adolescent, and menopausal gynecology.
Brooklyn Abortion Clinic