If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering a termination, it is likely you will want to know what to expect if you have a medical abortion. The decision to terminate a pregnancy can arise for a number of reasons and is almost never taken lightly. Often it is due to a woman simply not being ready for motherhood, or because of foetal abnormality. Ultimately, every woman’s circumstances are unique and it is crucial to remember that the choice is yours to make.
It is also vital to seek the finest medical help. Unfortunately all sorts of dangerous shortcuts abound online such as unprescribed ‘abortion pills’. It is imperative to avoid these quick fixes and to ensure you get thorough checks and medical history reviews before any termination.
There are two kinds of abortion; medical abortion using pills, and surgical abortion. Here at The Gynae Centre we can administer both, but in early pregnancy many women prefer medical abortion because it is non-invasive. We perform medical abortion from 6-9 weeks of pregnancy.
What does medical abortion involve?
Medical abortion, or early abortion, involves taking two sets of oral tablets over two clinic visits.
Your first visit
In your first visit here at The Gynae Centre you’ll have a meeting with a consultant obstetrician-gynaecologist who will talk you through all you need to know about medical abortion. In addition:
- You will have an ultrasound scan to confirm your pregnancy and how many weeks along it is.
- Your medical history will be thoroughly assessed. This is imperative because for some women (for example those with sickle cell disease or those who have a contraceptive coil that cannot be removed prior to termination) medical abortion is not advisable.
- You will be screened for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV or chlamydia.
- You will have a blood test to establish your blood group.
- You will be able to discuss contraception options.
The length of time this initial appointment takes will depend on your own medical history and particular circumstances. Assuming everything is fine and you are able to undergo medical abortion, you’ll be given your first pill to take at the clinic.
This first tablet is called Mifepristone and it works by obstructing the vital pregnancy hormone progesterone which makes the lining of your uterus hospitable for a fertilised egg.
Afterwards you’re free to leave the clinic and go about your day. Usually at this point, you’re unlikely to notice side effects like cramping. In rare cases women sometimes have a bit of bleeding and mild cramping, but most don’t. If you vomit within an hour of taking the Mifepristone then you’ll need to return to the clinic right away because the tablets may not have been properly absorbed by your system, in which case we’ll administer another dose.
In the unlikely event that you have heavy bleeding or significant pain, contact The Gynae Centre Support Line.
Your second visit – Medical abortion
After this first visit (6-24 hours later), you will return to the clinic to take your second pill. It is crucial that you attend your second visit and you should take the day off work so you can rest.
Because the abortion process will involve period pain – which can be severe like labour pain – and last 3-8 hours on average, we recommend that you take pain relief before coming to the clinic – 2 x 500mg paracetamol and Diclofenac 100mg Do NOT take aspirin.
This second pill is called . Along with the Misoprostol, you’ll also be given:
- Antibiotics to avert infection.
- A painkiller if you haven’t taken any before arrival at the clinic.
- A pack of antibiotics to take with you to stave off infection.
Misoprostol works by encouraging uterus contractions so that the womb lining breaks down and can be expelled through the vagina along with the pregnancy. You will experience cramping and bleeding when this happens, and may also pass clots. You may well find that the cramping is strong, but this is normal. In addition to the painkillers, you may find it helpful to apply a hot water bottle to your tummy. Do NOT take aspirin.
It’s imperative that you use sanitary pads instead of tampons, in order to avoid infection.
Side effects of Misoprostol can include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and shivering. These may occur quite soon after you take the medication, so you should plan getting home. We advise that you bring someone with you to the appointment and that you are driven home. Once you have passed the pregnancy, the bleeding should become lighter – more like a somewhat heavier period. However it might stay fairly heavy for around 1-2 days as your womb contracts and goes back to its normal size. If you experience heavy bleeding for longer than two days, or you soak more than two sanitary towels an hour for two hours or longer, call our 24 Hour Support Line.
This miscarriage process is usually concluded within 48 hours but you may continue to experience lesser bleeding for as long as a fortnight.
For your own safety we advise that you don’t shower or take a bath during or after the miscarriage unless someone is with you.
Medical abortion aftercare
It is very important that your medical abortion is followed up properly and here at The Gynae Centre we go to great lengths to make sure that you are doing well. If at any point after the miscarriage you experience severe pain or strange bleeding, or any symptoms that seem unusual, we are here to help.
We advise you to come in to the clinic a week later after your medical abortion to make sure that the miscarriage had occurred. In the very unlikely event of the abortion having been unsuccessful or incomplete, we are able to resolve the issue and one of our elite gynaecologists will be able to discuss this with you.
Pregnancy termination can be a difficult decision for many women to come to and whatever your circumstances, you need the finest care and support around you. Here at The Gynae Centre, our wealth of experience in supporting women makes us able to empathise and respond to your needs.
For an appointment call 020 7580 8090.