Considering Abortion

Considering Abortion

Before you have any elective procedure it’s important to know the potential impacts it could have on your body and future health. Here we’ve compiled the latest research on the impacts of abortion.

Risks and side effects vary by the type of procedure and how far along you are. If you’re pregnant, Life Choices can help.  We offer free ultrasounds to determine how far along you are and our trained staff will provide you with the information you need to make a healthy and educated choice. Make an Appointment.

Types of Abortion/Procedures

 

Abortion Pill (RU-486)

Procedure
The FDA approved regimen1 for Mifiprex (RU-486) is a two-visit process using two different drugs:

  1. Mifepristone is given orally during the first office visit (200 mg). Mifepristone blocks progesterone from sustaining the pregnancy, thereby ending the life of the baby.
  2. Misoprostol tablets are given orally (800 mcg) 48 hours later. The misoprostol will cause contractions to expel the baby’s remains. This does not take place at the medical office and may occur within a few hours or up to two weeks after taking misoprostol.
  3. A physical exam is given by the healthcare provider about 7-14 days later to ensure the abortion is complete and that there are no immediate complications.

Risks and Side Effects

  • The procedure is unsuccessful <3.2% of the time prior to 57 days, 6.5 % from 57-63 days and 7.2% from 63-70 days gestation.2
  • Major adverse events requiring going to the emergency room occur for about 3.7% (about 1 in 25) of the patients between 47-63 days and 4.6% (about 1 in 20) of the patients between 64-70 days gestation.3
  • Cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heavy bleeding, infection and in rare cases, death.
  • Not advised for women who have anemia, bleeding disorders, liver or kidney disease, seizure disorder, acute inflammatory bowel disease, use an intrauterine device (IUD), or are unable to return for the follow-up visit.

Fetal Development Weeks 4-8

The following describes some of the developmental steps of the baby during the time frame when a woman is eligible for a medication abortion.

  • Nerves, brain and spinal cord begin to develop
  • Heart begins to beat
  • Eyes, arms, legs, lungs, and stomach begin to form
  • Hands and feet are forming
  • All organs are present by week 8

Abortion Pill Reversal

There is a 55% chance of continuing a healthy pregnancy if therapy is started within 72 hours of taking mifepristone. See Abortion Pill Reversal for details.
*LMP – Last Menstrual Period

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Suction Aspiration or Vacuum Aspiration

Procedure

  • Patient lies on her back with feet in stirrups and a speculum is inserted to open the vagina.
  • A local anesthetic is administered to her cervix. Then, a tenaculum (a slender sharp pointed hook attached to a handle, and used mainly in surgery for seizing and holding parts) is used to hold the cervix in place for the cervix to be dilated by cone shaped rods.
  • When the cervix is wide enough, a cannula (a long plastic tube connected to a suction device) is inserted into the uterus to suction out the baby and placenta.
  • The procedure usually lasts 10-15 minutes, but recovery may require staying at the clinic for a few hours.

Risks and Side Effects

  • Cramping, nausea, sweating, and feeling faint.
  • Less frequent side effects include possible heavy or prolonged bleeding, blood clots, damage to the cervix and perforation of the uterus.
  • Infection due to retained remains of the baby and related tissues, an STD, or bacteria being introduced to the uterus, can cause fever, pain, abdominal tenderness, scarring, infertility and in some cases, death.

Fetal Development Weeks 9-12

The following describes some of the developmental steps of the baby during the time frame when a woman is eligible for a vacuum abortion.

  • Upper lip, teeth, fingers and ears begin to form
  • Toes and genitals are forming
  • Baby can make a fist
  • Baby has permanent fingerprints
  • Baby starts to produce urine
  • All organs are functioning by week 12

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D&C: Dilation & Curettage

Procedure

  • Suction aspiration can be used up to 15 weeks. In the second trimester a D&C procedure is typically also required, which uses a curette: a long, looped shaped knife that scrapes the lining, placenta, and baby away from the uterus.
  • This procedure usually lasts 10 minutes, with a possible stay of 5 hours.

Risks and Side Effects

  • Nausea, bleeding and cramping may occur for two weeks following the procedure
  • Infection due to retained remains of the baby and related tissues, an STD, or bacteria, can cause fever, pain, abdominal tenderness, scarring, and in some cases, death.

Fetal Development Weeks 13-16

The following describes some of the developmental steps of the baby during the time frame when a woman is eligible for a D&C abortion.

  • Baby flexes, kicks and begins sucking thumb
  • Skin begins to form
  • Facial expressions are possible

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D&E: Dilation & Evacuation

Procedure

  • In most cases, 24 hours prior to the actual procedure, the abortion provider will insert laminaria or a synthetic dilator inside the cervix.
  • Cone-shaped rods of increasing size are used to continue the dilation process.
  • The cannula is inserted to begin removing tissue away from the lining. Then using a curette, the lining is scraped to remove any residuals.
  • If needed, forceps may be used to remove larger parts.
  • The procedure normally takes about 30 minutes.

Risks and Side Effects

The risks and side effects for a D&E are the same as those of a D&C, but more severe. Most D&E procedures are performed in a hospital setting due to the increased risks of severe complications. Although rare, additional risks related to D&E are damage to the uterine lining or cervix, perforation of the uterus, infertility, infection, and blood clots.

Fetal Development Weeks 17-21

The following describes some of the developmental steps of the baby during the time frame when a woman is eligible for a D&E abortion.

  • Hearing begins to develop
  • Eyebrows and eyelashes grow in
  • Mother feels baby’s movements more strongly

“Given the anatomical evidence, it is possible that the fetus can feel pain from 20 weeks and is caused distress by interventions from as early as 15 or 16 weeks.”4

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Immediate Complications

  • Damage to the womb or cervix
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Incomplete abortion, requiring a (additional) surgical abortion procedure
  • Infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes
  • Scarring of the inside of the uterus
  • Sepsis or Septic shock
  • Uterine perforation
  • Death

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Future Health Risks

Future Pre-term Deliveries

  • Abortion causes a weakening of the cervix, which increases a woman’s risk of future pre-term deliveries. Two recently-published studies indicate that one induced abortion increases the risk of a subsequent preterm birth by between 25% and 27%. After two or more abortions a woman’s risk of preterm birth increases by between 51% and 62%.5,6
  • A 2013 Canadian study found that women who have had abortions are more than twice as likely to have a very early preterm child (26 weeks gestation). The risks were 71% higher at 28 weeks gestation and 45% higher at 32 weeks.7
  • Premature births carry serious health risks for the baby. Infants who are born before 37 weeks gestational age have a much lower chance of living to adulthood.8 Those that do survive have significant risk of serious disabilities, including cerebral palsy, intellectual impairment, psychological development disorders and autism.9,10,11

Breast Cancer

  • Studies show that abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. A 2013 analysis revealed a 44% increased risk of breast cancer among females who had at least one induced abortion. The relative risk increased to 76% and 89% for those who had at least two or three abortions, respectively.12
  • Often women considering abortion are experiencing their first pregnancy. It is important to note the protective effects of a woman’s first full-term pregnancy, which causes breast cells to mature, reducing the risk of breast cancer. “Among women who have given birth, an increasing number of full-term pregnancies was associated with a statistically significant decrease in the risk of breast cancer; risk was reduced by 14% for each additional birth.”13

STDs & Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

  • “The presence of Chlamydia in the cervical canal at the time of abortion in asymptomatic women increases the risk of postabortal PID.”14
  • Of patients who have a Chlamydia infection at the time of abortion, 23% will develop PID within 4 weeks.15,16,17,18
  • “PID can lead to serious consequences including infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube or elsewhere outside of the womb), abscess formation, and chronic pelvic pain.”19

Mental Health

  • Research suggests that women who have had abortions may be at increased risk for mental health problems.20
  • “Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion.”21
  • Some women who have experienced an abortion report symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.22 Some of those symptoms may include:
    • Regret
    • Grief
    • Sadness/Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Guilt/Shame
    • Suicidal thoughts

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If you have had an abortion and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important for your emotional and physical health that you not ignore them. Contact us for a referral to a licensed counselor.


 
1.    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2016). “Mifeprex Medication Guide.” U.S. Department of Health. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM088643.pdf  
2.    Mifeprex Label (2016), Table 4.  
3.    Winikoff B, Dzuba IG, Chong E, Goldberg AB, Lichtenberg ES, Ball C, et al. (2012). “Extending outpatient medical abortion services through 70 days of gestational age.” Obstet Gynecol, 120(5): 1070-6.
4.    Glover V, Fisk, NM (1999). “Fetal pain: implication for research and practice.” Br J Obstet Gynaecol, 106(9): 881-6.  
5.    Shah PS, Zoa J (2009). Induced termination of pregnancy and low birth weight and preterm birth: A systematic review and meta-analyses. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 116(11): 1425-42  
6.    Swingle HM, Colaizy TT, Zimmerman MB, Morriss FH (2009). Abortion and the risk of subsequent preterm birth. J Reprod Med, 54(2): 95-108.  
7.    Hardy G, Benjamin A, Abenhaim HA (2013). Effect of induced abortions on early preterm births and adverse perinatal outcomes. JOGC, 35(2): 138-43.  
8.    Moster D, Lie RT, Markestad T (2008). Long-term medical and social consequences of preterm birth. NEJM, 359(3): 262-73.  
9.    Ibid.  
10.    Limperopoulos C, Bassan H, Sullivan NR, Soul JS, Robertson RL, Moore M, Ringer SA, Volpe JJ, du Plessis AJ (2008). Positive screening for autism in ex-preterm infants: Prevalence and risk factors. Pediatrics, 121(4): 758-65  
11.    Burd L, Severud R, Kerbeshian J, Klug MG (1999). Prenatal and perinatal risk factors for Autism. J Perinat Med, 27(6): 441-50.  
12.    Huang Y, Zhang X, Li W, Song F, Dai H, Wang J, Gao Y, Liu X, Chen C, Yan Y, Wang Y, Chen K (2014). “A meta-analysis of the association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females.” Cancer Cause Control, 25(2): 227-36.  
13.    Andrieu N, Goldgar DE, Easton DF, Rookus M, Brohet R, Antoniou AC, et al. (2006). Pregnancies, breast-feeding, and breast cancer risk in the international BRACA1/2 carrier cohort study. J Natl Cancer Inst, 98(8): 535-44.
14.    Westergaard L, Phillipsen T, Scheibel  J (1982). Significance of cervical Chlamydia trachomatis infection in postabortal pelvic inflammatory disease. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 68(5): 668-90.  
15.    Ovigstad E, et al. (1983). Pelvic inflammatory disease associated with Chlamydia trachomatis infection after therapeutic abortion. Br J Vener Dis, 59: 189-92  
16.    Duthie SJ, et al. (1987). Morbidity after termination of pregnancy in first trimester. Genitourin Med, 63(3): 182-7  
17.    Stray-Pedersen B, et al. (1991). Induced abortion: Microbiological screening and medical complications. Infection 19(5): 305-8  
18.    Heisterberg L, et al. (1987). The role of vaginal secretory immunoglobulin a, gardnerella vaginalis, anaerobes, and Chlamydia trachomatis in post abortal pelvic inflammatory disease. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 66(2): 99-102.  
19.    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014).  Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – CDC fact sheet. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/std/PID/STDFact-PID.htm
20.    Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Ridder E (2006). Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. J Child Psychol Psyc 47(1):16-24.
21.      Coleman, PK (2011). “Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009.” Br J Psych, 199: 180-6.
22.      Coyle CT, Coleman PK, Rue VM (2010). Inadequate preabortion counseling and decision conflict as predictors of subsequent relationship difficulties and psychological stress in men and women. Traumatology 16(1):16-30.

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