Answers About Abortion

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If you decide to terminate your pregnancy, one option is to have an in-clinic abortion. This type of abortion, which is also known as a surgical abortion, involves surgery performed in a clinic or health center. Another option is to have a medical, or medication, abortion. This procedure uses the abortion pill to end a pregnancy.

What Does a Medication Abortion Involve?

Despite being called the abortion pill, a medication abortion involves two types of pills. One pill causes the pregnancy to end, and the other causes the uterus to expel it.

The most common type of medication abortion uses the medications oral mifepristone (Mifeprex) and oral misoprostol (Cytotec). The first drug blocks a hormone called progesterone, and this affects the lining of the uterus. It becomes thin, and the embryo can no longer remain implanted or continue to grow. The second drug causes the uterus to contract, and the embryo is then expelled through the vagina.

Are Risks Involved?

Although the procedure does not involve surgery or anesthesia, potential risks still exist. You could experience bleeding that is heavy and prolonged. You might develop a fever or an infection. If the procedure is not successful, you could be left with an ongoing pregnancy. As well, the abortion may be incomplete, and a surgical abortion would then be necessary. However, depending on how early into your pregnancy you take the pills, a medication abortion can succeed 87% to 98% of the time.

Is It Always an Option?

If you are allergic to the medications that are used or have an intrauterine device (IUD), you would need to consider alternatives. This would also be the case if you cannot access emergency care or will be unable to attend follow-up visits with your doctor.

As well, this procedure would not be appropriate if you have certain medical conditions, such as an uncontrolled seizure disorder, a heart or blood vessel disease, a bleeding disorder, or severe lung, kidney, or liver disease. In addition, you should not have a medication abortion if your pregnancy is suspected to be ectopic, meaning it is outside of the uterus, or if it is beyond the first trimester.

Are Long-Term Side Effects Common?

If you have this type of abortion in Iowa or another state, it does not mean that you will be putting future pregnancies or your overall health in jeopardy. Following the procedure, your risk of developing breast cancer will not increase, and your future fertility will not be affected. Problems that might occur during future pregnancies, such as an ectopic pregnancy, birth defects, low birth weight or premature birth, miscarriage, or death of the infant would not be due to a previous medication abortion.  

How Can You Prepare?

You can begin by scheduling an appointment with your doctor. He or she can answer your questions about what to expect during and after the procedure. At your appointment, the physician can give you a physical exam to confirm your pregnancy and evaluate your medical history and overall health. Blood tests, urine tests, and an ultrasound exam to date the pregnancy may also be done.

It might be helpful to have a conversation about this serious decision with those who care about you. You could include your partner, friends, family members, or a counselor in these discussions.

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