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Difficult Decisions: Medical Abortion

What to expect if you have a medical abortion.

By Tina Kells


Having a medical abortion takes longer than having a surgical abortion and the process can last up to 21 days from start to finish. However, many women and girls feel that this decision is more like a naturally occuring miscarriage and therefore feel that it is less stressful to endure emmotionally.

After your first visit to the doctor's office you may change your mind and no longer want an abortion, or you may not want a medical abortion and decide on a surgical abortion instead. Many women come away from this initial visit feeling a little apprehensive about the process, a little weary about their decision and a little relieved that they have taken the first step. If you are very certain that abortion is for you this visit will likely make you feel more relieved than anything else because the process has actually started. If you are not totally certain about your decision this visit may make you change your mind completely, but if you do not change your mind you are likely to feel any or all of the following emmotions; anger, frustration, fear, confusion, exhilaration, relief, sadness, or heartbreak. You may feel these emmotions in waves and will likely be prone to sudden mood swings. If you are very unsure, discuss it with your doctor at the next visit. You may decide to wait in which case you will likely have to have a surgical abortion if you ultimately decide that abortion is for you. Medical abortions must be performed very early in a pregnancy.

After you have been given the Methotrexate you may feel nauseated, tired, feverish, and you may get headaches. Emmotionally you may feel anything from relief to regret, or you may experience waves of opposing feelings (regret followed by relief), or you may feel nothing. If you were given the Methotrexate by injection you may have pain, swelling or discomofort at the site of the injection.

After 72 hours you will wet and insert the Misoprostol pills high up in your vagina. Within 1-12 hours you should begin to feel cramping. These cramps will be mild to severe depending on a variety of factors; how far along in the pregnancy you are (the earlier, the less cramping there usually is), the severity of your normal menstrual cramps, and your emmotional state. You may also feel nauseated and feverish from the pain and/or as a reaction to the pills. At this point you may decide to take a first dose of the anti-nausea medication and the pain killers that were given to you. Shortly after cramping you will start to bleed. This should be heavier than a normal period and the worst of it will last 3-5 hours. If you bleed too much you must call your doctor. Your doctor will tell you what to look for as a sign of excessive blood loss. After the pregnancy has passed the cramps will subside and the bleeding will slow down. You will experience spotting (light and irregular bleeding) for 7 - 21 days. You must use pads for the first 7 days but can use tampons after the first week. Your next regular period will start 4-6 weeks after the day you insert the Methotrexate.

After it is over your feelings may rollercoaster and you may have severe mood swings. You may feel sad, angry, regretful, relieved, empty, alone, or any combination of these things, or you may feel totally normal. If you feel very sad for more than a few days, suicidal or start falling in to a depression you must go to your doctor and tell him/her about these feelings so you can be treated. It is strongly recommended that you get some post-abortion counselling even if you feel OK. Remember, there is no "normal" way to feel - everybody is different.

This article not a political article or a religious article. It will not make any moral assertions on the issue of abortion. It will not promote or discourage this choice. It is for informational purposes only.

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