If you’re planning to have an abortion, then it is important to know exactly what the procedure will involve. Several different types of abortion procedure are available in the UK. You will need to discuss these procedures with your doctor so that you can decide which one is right for you.
In order to choose the right abortion procedure, you will need to consider several different factors. Your options may be limited by medical factors such as the length of the pregnancy and your health, but you should also consider your own personal preferences about where and how the procedure will be performed. You should be able to make an informed choice about your care after you learn more about the different types of abortion that are available for you.
The length of your pregnancy will determine which types of abortion you can have. Your pregnancy is dated from the first day of your last period. You should be able to work out how many weeks pregnant you are as long as you know when you had your period.
The following types of termination are available at different points in the pregnancy:
- Medical abortions can be performed at any time up to 9 weeks
- Manual vacuum aspiration is available between 7 and 15 weeks
- Surgical terminations can be performed between 15 and 19 weeks
- Abortions aren’t performed in the UK after 20 weeks unless there is an urgent medical need
Your Health and Medical History
All types of abortion performed in the UK are very safe and they are usually suitable for most women. However, if you have certain types of medical issues your doctor may recommend avoiding certain types of abortion. For example, if you have had an allergic reaction to either of the medications used during a medical abortion, you will probably need to have a surgical procedure instead. Certain types of medications, such as some asthma drugs, can also cause negative interactions with the abortion pill.
Another factor that you may need to consider if you have a young child is that it is possible to continue breastfeeding when you have a surgical abortion. You would need to stop breastfeeding for a while after taking the abortion pill.
How the Procedures are Performed?
Having a medical abortion is a very different process than having any of the types of surgical termination. If you are at a point in the pregnancy when it is possible to have either a medical or surgical abortion, then you may want to consider these differences when deciding which option is right for you.
- You will need two appointments at the abortion clinic, two days apart to take both of the medications required for a medical abortion. The surgical termination can be completed at a single appointment, but it will be longer. You’ll usually need to spend about half a day at the hospital to have and recover from the procedure.
- You should expect some soreness, bleeding and cramping after any kind of abortion. However, the side effects will usually be milder for a surgical abortion as the womb contents will have been removed during the procedure.
- Although the risks are low, there is a higher chance of complications if you have a surgical abortion than if you take the abortion pill. For example, there is a risk that your cervix or uterus could be damaged during the procedure.
- You will usually be offered either a sedative or general anaesthetic when you have a surgical abortion. Sedatives will make you feel drowsy and make it harder for you to remember what happened. A general anaesthetic will make you sleep through the procedure so that you are unaware of what is happening.
There may be a medical or practical reason why one option is better for you, but you should also tell your doctor if you have a personal preference. Some people prefer to have a medical abortion because the procedure is simpler and they’ll be able to recover at home. However, others may prefer to have a surgical abortion because they feel more comfortable being in the hospital for the procedure.
The decision to have a sedative or general anaesthetic during a surgical abortion can also be very personal. Some women prefer to be less aware of what is going on, but the loss of control can make others feel anxious. You may be able to choose whether or not to have the sedative or anaesthetic if you are having a surgical termination relatively early in the pregnancy.
Which Option is Right for You?
With several different types of abortion available at different points during pregnancy, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. Thankfully, this isn’t a decision that you will have to make by yourself. During your initial consultation at an abortion clinic, you will get all the information you need to make the right decisions.
The doctor will provide personalised advice on which abortion procedures are suitable for you, depending on the length of the pregnancy and your medical history. You will also learn more about what the procedures involve and the risks and benefits of each option. By the end of the appointment, you should have a good understanding of all of the options that are available for you. You will then be able to make a decision about which one is right for you, whether this is to continue with the pregnancy or to have a medical or surgical abortion.
Both medical and surgical abortions are very safe procedures with relatively short recovery times. You will be able to have the termination at the abortion clinic and then return home on the same day. Although you will experience some bleeding, cramping and other side effects, you should be ready to get back to your usual routine within a few days.
Whichever choice you make, you will get all of the care and support that you need before, during and after the termination.