Not Sure What Type of Abortion is Best For You ?
As one of the most common medical procedures performed in the United States, the actual type of abortion a woman can get all depends on how far along she is in her pregnancy. Since ancient times, abortions have been performed by the use of herbal medicines, but in today’s world, almost all abortions are outpatient, meaning there are no overnight stays at the doctor’s office or hospital.
First, let’s talk about what an abortion actually is. According to Wikipedia, “abortion is the ending of a pregnancy by removing the fetus or embryo before it can survive outside of the uterus.” An abortion that is unintentional is often called a miscarriage, whereas an intentional abortion is called an induced abortion.
When you first arrive at the doctor’s office to get an abortion, you’ll be asked to fill out paperwork about you and your family’s medical history. You’ll then receive a pre-examination physical, blood work, a pregnancy test, and a test for sexually transmitted diseases. From this, and a possible ultrasound, the doctor will determine how far along you are in your pregnancy, and what sort of procedure would be best.
As with any medical procedure, you will be given something to manage your pain. This is usually a local anesthesia, where your cervix is numbed and you are awake, or an oral medication like ibuprofen which also provides enough relief for you during this time. Of course a sedative is also available if you prefer to be in a light sleep, but it is not necessary.
First Trimester Procedure
The most common type of abortion is called a vacuum aspiration. This takes place in the first trimester of pregnancy (the first 12-13 weeks). In this procedure, you will lie on your back with your feet up while your healthcare provider inserts a medical tool called a speculum into your vagina to keep it open. Then they will swab your vagina with an antiseptic solution called Betadine. Your provider will then numb your cervix, if it isn’t already, and insert a small tube attached to a syringe or suction machine into your uterus. This will clear out anything inside your uterus. The entire procedure takes a few minutes, followed by 30 minutes of rest.
Second Trimester Procedure
While your healthcare provider can do a vacuum aspiration at 14 weeks, it is recommended that women in their second trimester get a D&E, or a dilation and evacuation. First, your doctor will dilate your cervix so that it is not injured, and give you a dose of medicine to soften your uterus. From here you will once again lie on your back while your doctor swabs your vagina and cervix with Betadine, inject the anesthesia, and use a tool to hold your cervix in place.
Next, in addition to using a vacuum, tools like forceps and a curette will be used to scrape the inside of your uterus. This entire procedure takes around 20-30 minutes with at least a half hour of rest afterwards.
Third Trimester Procedure
For those that are even further along in their pregnancy, you will have to find a doctor to perform a D&X, or a dilation and extraction procedure. This includes all of the steps taken for preparation of a D&E, but for sedation you will most likely receive anesthesia. Once the procedure is finished you will rest for at least a half hour, especially if a sedation was used.
For both a D&E and D&X, you will most likely experience cramping for a few days and bleeding for up to two weeks, and should refrain from doing any heavy activities. Take your time to rest and ask your doctor when you will be able to have sex or use a tampon again. Most physicians will ask for a follow-up appointment up to 4 weeks after your abortion to make sure you have recovered and are no longer pregnant.
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