As a gynaecologist, abortion is an ethical dilemma I see many of my patients face- day in and out. To abort or not to abort, how to abort, how it will affect future chances of conception- all these are questions that a couple faces. An abortion is a sensitive medical procedure and must be undertaken after due consideration and with great precaution and care. Today, I will discuss the most common concerns surrounding abortions and try to make things simpler for my patients and readers.
To abort or not to abort?
To abort or not is an intensely personal decision and not one that can be taken lightly. That said, the only person whose consent is needed for an abortion is the woman carrying the baby. There are two main reasons for wanting an abortion- medically, if there is something wrong with the baby, or if it is an unwanted pregnancy.
For a medical condition- the doctor herself will advise for an abortion if it is required. But for unwanted pregnancy, you could opt for counseling to ensure that you understand and weigh all your options before going ahead with the abortion.
When to abort?
For all pregnancies, the earlier the abortion happens, the safer and better it is. The government of India permits abortions up to 20 weeks if medically required and up to 12 weeks for all cases of voluntary abortion. An earlier decision to abort also gives the couple time to understand the implications of their choice and take an informed decision.
How to abort?
There are two ways to abort a pregnancy- medical and surgical
Medical termination of pregnancy- Can be done up to 10 weeks after the first day of your last period. It is a safe and easy option for early pregnancy. However, self-medication is not recommended. Please consult your doctor if this is a feasible option for you if you have an early pregnancy.
Surgical termination of pregnancy- This is a full-fledged surgical procedure performed to manually remove the unwanted foetus from the uterus. It is recommended for up to 12 weeks from the first day of your last period.
Are there side effects of an abortion?
The medication used to abort a pregnancy may lead to severe cramps and heavy bleeding for the duration of the procedure. However, these subside gradually as the products are expelled. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite are other side effects that some but not all women suffer. Again, these subside gradually over the course of the next 2-3 days. If you experience uncontrolled bleeding or the other side effects persist for days after the procedure, kindly consult your gynaecologist.
It should be noted that neither medical nor surgical abortion reduces your long term chances of conception.
For women who undergo a surgical abortion, adequate rest and follow up is recommended. While most women recover within a day or two from the procedure per say, it is better to avoid strenuous exercise, intercourse and any other form of intense physical activity for a week or so. However, it is best to consult your gynaecologist to discuss this and know more.