Obstetrics & Gynaecology


Introduction to Abortion

Abortion is the process of ending a pregnancy. It can also be known as a termination.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is an Abortion?

Abortion, sometimes known as a termination, is the medical term for ending a pregnancy. Dependent on the stage of the pregnancy the procedure undertaken by abortion doctors may either be medicinal or via surgery. Most abortions take place within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy unless there is serious risk to the woman or a severe foetal abnormality. As abortion is a very personal choice, it’s important that you choose the best abortion doctors from the highest rated abortion clinics and hospitals in London. Here, you will be treated sympathetically and your treatment will be carried out discreetly. Should you require surgical abortion, our team of top abortion experts will carefully tailor the procedure to your needs.

How is an Abortion performed?

All abortions in the UK take place in an NHS hospital or a licensed clinic. Abortions are either medical or surgical and there are a variety of procedures depending on the stage of pregnancy.

An abortion involves two separate visits to the clinic. The first visit involves an appointment during which time you can talk things through with a health care practitioner. You can be offered extra supports including counselling to help you make a decision. Information on the risks and complications is provided as well as what you should expect during and after an abortion. Some women may need an ultrasound scan to determine how far along the pregnancy is or a vaginal examination. You will also be required to sign a consent form which says you agree to the abortion and procedure being chosen.

Medical abortions: If the pregnancy is 9 weeks or less two pills can be taken 36-40 hours apart. This is similar to a natural early miscarriage and so you will experience bleeding and some pain when this occurs. During your initial visit to the hospital/clinic you will be given the abortion pill Mifepristone. Mifepristone stops the hormone (progesterone) which makes the womb suitable for the fertilised egg to survive. After taking this pill you will return home. Very little will happen after this so you can continue with normal everyday activities. Few women have mild cramps and some bleeding but if you are in significant pain or bleeding heavily you should contact the hospital/clinic or go to A&E. Two days later, you will go back to the clinic and be given the second pill – prostaglandin. This causes the womb lining to breakdown and be lost along with the embryo as a bleed from your vagina. This can be painful but painkillers can be taken to alleviate the pain. Both Mifepristone and prostaglandins can make you feel nauseous or give you diarrhoea.

If the pregnancy is between 9-20 weeks the same medication Mifepristone and prostaglandins are given but more prostaglandin is needed. The abortion will also take longer but you should be able to return home on the same day. In a small number of cases (<5%) the placenta does not pass and a small operation is carried out, under general anaesthetic, to remove it. Medically induced abortions carried out between 20-24 weeks of pregnancy require a medical stay in hospital overnight. Prostaglandin is injected into the womb, inducing contractions similar to those in labour. Contractions last 6-12 hours and you can be given medication to control the pain. Surgical dilation and excavation (described later) might then be carried out to ensure the womb is empty. Surgical abortions: For pregnancies 7-15 weeks vacuum aspiration/suction termination is carried it. It uses gentle suction to remove the foetus from the womb under general or local anaesthetic. The procedure lasts 5-10 mins. A tablet may be placed inside your vagina a few hours before the abortion to soften the cervix. After the cervix is widened enough, a plastic suction tube connected to a pump will be inserted into your womb and used to remove the foetus and surrounding tissue. After this procedure you will be able to go home but can experience bleeding for up to 21 days, though the average length time is 9-10 days. You can also experience cramps during this time which you can take painkillers for. From 15 weeks of pregnancy onwards, surgical dilation and evacuation is carried out under general anaesthetic. The cervix is dilated and forceps and a suction tube used to remove the foetus and tissue growing in the womb. The procedure usually takes 10-20 mins and provided there are no complications, you can return home the same day. You may experience bleeding for up to 21 days after this procedure. Abortions carried out at 20-24 weeks of pregnancy require an overnight stay and involves two stages carried out under general anaesthetic. The first stage stops the foetal heart beat and softens the cervix. The next day, the second stage is carried out where the foetus and surrounding tissues are removed by surgical dilation and evacuation.


How to prepare for an Abortion?

Unfortunately, not all pregnancies are wanted, whether due to personal circumstances or accidental conception. It is very much an individual choice to terminate a pregnancy. If you have made a firm and conscious decision to terminate your pregnancy then you should make an appointment with one of Doctify’s expert abortion doctors. As an abortion can affect your physical and emotional state, finding the right abortion clinic in London will ensure that your wellbeing is considered and that you are fully informed of the process both prior to and after the procedure. So, if abortion is the right choice for you, make an appointment today with one of Doctify’s expert team.

Depending on the procedure you’re going to have, it might be recommended you do not eat or drink alcohol for a period of time before your procedure. The health care professional should tell you what restrictions apply to your before the procedure but if in any doubt, call up the clinic and check.

It may also be beneficial to read up on the side effects and make sure you have some painkillers as some procedures can cause painful craps a few days after.

What happens after an Abortion?

Most abortion procedures are done in outpatient clinics so you are able to go home the same day. Some may be painful or cause bleeding for a few days after procedure though pain killers can be taken for the pain. If you are in significant pain or have very heavy bleeding you should call up the clinic or go to A&E if it is out of hours.

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