Medical Abortion

According to the Supreme Court of India, every woman in India, married or not, is entitled to safe and legal abortion under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, of 1971.

However, despite the legalization, the majority of the female population in India isn’t aware of their rights and what factors into getting an abortion in India. Out of the two common types of abortions, medical abortion is the one that’s less discussed and known about.

Unlike surgical abortion, which can be performed if the length of the pregnancy is under 20 weeks (with the advice of one registered medical practitioner) or between 20-24 weeks (with the advice of two medical practitioners), medical abortion is advised for a select few pregnant women until seven weeks of pregnancy.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about Medical Abortion, its types and risks, and the recovery associated with it.

What is Medical Abortion?

A medical abortion, also known as medication abortion, refers to a procedure where prescribed drugs are administered to terminate a pregnancy.

During a medical termination, a combination of anti-progesterone tablets and prostaglandin tablets is commonly used. The anti-progesterone tablets work by blocking the hormone progesterone, which is essential for maintaining pregnancy.

By inhibiting progesterone, the tablets help to detach the pregnancy from the uterine lining. Following this, prostaglandin tablets are administered to induce uterine contractions, which assist in the expulsion of the pregnancy from the uterus. The combined effect of these medications facilitates the termination of the pregnancy.

While these pills are effective in terminating the pregnancy after taking it, some women experience cramping, heavy bleeding, and discomfort in the following few weeks after the abortion is done.

Despite its effectiveness, medical abortion isn’t advised for everyone. There are restrictions, especially when it involves the length of the pregnancy. Any pregnancy that’s over 7 weeks shouldn’t be terminated using medical abortion. In that case, a surgical abortion is advised by the medical professional.

Related Blog10 Myths Debunked You Might Believe About Medical Abortion

Who Should Not Consider a Medical Abortion?

Abortion is a procedure that needs to be done under close scrutiny. At Queen’s Gynecology, we often work with patients that seek consultation about an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy that might pose a risk to the mother’s health, thereby needing an abortion.

When it comes to medical abortion, the procedure isn’t for every pregnant woman. In fact, if the woman has been pregnant for more than seven weeks, medical abortion isn’t a viable option. Besides that, medical abortion is not ideal for individuals that are:

  • Too far along in the pregnancy
  • Have an ectopic pregnancy (embryo implanted outside the uterus)
  • Have anemia
  • Have blood clotting disorder
  • Have a chronic adrenal failure
  • Have been on long-term corticosteroids
  • Have an Intrauterine device (IUD) implanted
  • Have an allergy to certain medications
  • Don’t have the means for a follow-up check-in after the procedure is performed

Since medical abortion is highly sensitive and involves a series of deciding factors, our specialists at Queen’s Gynecology prioritize a thorough check-up and assessment before performing or prescribing any of the procedures in question.

What is the Purpose of a Medical Abortion?

Medical abortion is a personal decision made by individuals based on their unique circumstances. It offers several reasons for consideration, each catering to different situations and needs.

Pregnancy complications and health risks – For women facing health complications, continuing a pregnancy could pose significant risks to their well-being. In such cases, a medical abortion may be chosen to mitigate potential dangers and ensure the preservation of health.

Unwanted pregnancy – In situations where a woman finds herself facing an unwanted pregnancy, a medical abortion can provide a safe and effective solution. This option allows individuals to have control over their reproductive choices and make decisions aligned with their personal circumstances.

Early miscarriage completion – In cases of early miscarriage, where the pregnancy has not progressed as desired, a medical abortion can be an option to complete the process. This choice allows for the resolution of the pregnancy and facilitates emotional closure for the individuals involved.

Medical abortion is a versatile procedure that accommodates various circumstances, offering a safe and controlled method for ending a pregnancy. However, since the procedure comes with certain limitations, it should only be done under the supervision of a trained and certified medical professional to prevent risks and complications.

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How to Prepare for a Medical Abortion?

As mentioned, medical abortion is accessible but requires a thorough diagnosis and lookout. Our team of gynecologists at Queen’s Gynecology prioritizes a thorough evaluation and examination of the patient before proceeding with the procedure.

Here’s what goes into preparing for a medical abortion:

  • Physical examination to confirm the pregnancy and the length of the gestation.
  • Ultrasound to view the placement of the embryo in the uterus and the state of the pregnancy.
  • Determining whether or not it is an ectopic pregnancy since medical abortion is not an option in that case.
  • Perform required blood and urine tests.
  • Have an open and transparent conversation with the patient regarding the procedure.

Not just the procedure itself; preparation for a medical abortion also involves discussions about the events that will occur after the procedure is over.

What is the Procedure of Medical Abortion?

We briefly discussed the prescription drugs that are used in medical abortion. But, being confused about the whole procedure is fairly common. It’s not just you; at Queen’s, we encounter several patients who are often worried about the procedure.

Since we prioritize patient education, being open and clear about the procedure and the after-effects is something we focus on, and it is also an ethical route of treatment.

Medical abortion in India can be done up to seven weeks of gestation. If the pregnancy lasts over seven weeks, medical abortion is not a viable option. That said, the procedure itself can be done in two ways – orally or via the vagina.

The procedure involves the use of two categories of drugs – anti-progesterone, and prostaglandins. The anti-progesterone drugs block or inhibit progesterone production, thereby thinning the uterine lining and detaching the embryo from the uterus. The prostaglandins, on the other hand, trigger uterine contractions, shedding the lining and expelling the embryo.

Now, the combination of these two drugs can be administered via two methods:

  • The anti-progesterone drug is taken first orally, and the prostaglandins are taken 24-48 hours after that. (have a clear discussion with your healthcare provider for better understanding)
  • The anti-progesterone drug is taken orally, but the prostaglandins are either taken via the vagina or dissolved under the tongue or cheek of the patient around 24-48 hours after the first drug. (clear discussions with your healthcare provider are advised).

That’s basically the extent of the medical abortion procedure that doesn’t involve any kind of invasive or surgical procedure. It is primarily factored under the use of prescription drugs to terminate the pregnancy safely.

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What Happens Right After Undergoing a Medical Abortion?

Once you have undergone the medical termination of pregnancy via the medical abortion procedure, the next thought that should strike your mind is wondering, “What happens after the procedure?”

Following taking both the prescribed dosage of anti-abortion medications (anti-progesterone and prostaglandins), you will experience the following:

  • Bleeding and cramping, which should start anywhere between 1-4 hours after the second medication is taken.
  • Experience heavy bleeding with the discharge of blood clots for the next few hours. This might be accompanied by heavy bleeding.
  • Potential risks include low-grade fever, chills, and fatigue for a few days after taking the second pill.
  • There might be signs of nausea, dizziness, tiredness, and diarrhea for a few extra weeks down the road, although it isn’t the case for everyone.

To ensure that the pregnancy has been safely terminated, follow-up appointments are a must to ensure minimal to no complications.

What are the Risks Associated with a Medical Abortion?

When talking about clinical abortion, specifically medical abortion, it is crucial to understand that the procedure comes with a fair share of risks. The first factor of consideration is the dosage itself. It is mandatory that the patient is taking the prescribed dosage of medication for effective results. Skipping a dose of either of the anti-abortion pills isn’t an option.

Following are a few risks associated with medical abortion:

  • Incomplete abortion
  • Heavy bleeding that’s consistent and not stopping
  • Fever and infection
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Developing an allergic reaction to the medications

It is necessary for the patient to closely monitor themselves and even pay close attention to their symptoms after taking the anti-abortion pills. 

Read more on the side effects of abortion pills

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In conclusion, medical abortion is a procedure that offers individuals a safe and non-invasive option for terminating a pregnancy. It encompasses the use of prescribed medications to induce the termination, providing control and autonomy over reproductive choices.

At Queen’s Gynecology, our renowned clinic offers safe, comprehensive, and approved medical abortion procedures. If you are considering one, we’d urge you to either reach out to us for further appointment-related queries or walk in directly into our clinic for further assistance.

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