Are Abortions Safe?

As with any medical procedure that requires a general anaesthetic, abortions carry a certain amount of risk.  However the earlier in your pregnancy you are the safer and less intrusive the treatment is.  For many women an abortion is safer than actually having the baby at full term.  There are no known long term effects of having an abortion.

The 1967 Abortion Act was brought in to make abortions legal and safe for women and to remove backstreet clinics.  Abortion clinics in the UK have to be licensed so you can feel secure in the knowledge that you will be treated professionally and with respect.

The early medical abortion or abortion pill which is carried out up to 9 weeks into your pregnancy, is the safest method as it does not involve any anaesthetic at all.  It involves taking two pills orally, often 48 hours apart, which results in the termination of your pregnancy. The second treatment can take place 6-8 hours after the first and also 24 hours after the first. The correct time gap depends on the individual's circumstances.

The Vacuum Aspiration method which is used between 7 -15 weeks into your pregnancy can involve a local anaesthetic which carries minimal risks to you.  Both of these methods allow you to go home the same day and get back to normal almost immediately.

The methods used in later pregnancy, from 15 weeks onwards are more intrusive and so the risks are slightly higher.

The Surgical dilation and evacuation (D&E) method is used from 15 weeks and involves a general anaesthetic.  This entails your cervix being opened and the foetus being removed using a suction tube. As with any surgery there is an issue of how safe you will be but, risks are minimal.

The late abortion methods carried out between 20 and 24 weeks into pregnancy also require a general anaesthetic.  There are two methods, Surgical two stage abortion or Medically induced abortion.

As the later abortion techniques involve a general anaesthetic you will have a greater chance of having a blood clot or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).  These risks increase if you are overweight, have asthma or have a heart condition.  The increased hormone levels that occur in pregnancy also increase the chances of getting a blood clot.

As the late abortion methods are quite intrusive there is a higher chance of damage occurring to your uterus and other internal organs although this is very rare and abortions are considered relatively safe.

The greatest risk to you after having an abortion is the increased chance of getting an infection.  Signs of an infection are having a high temperature, unusual and smelly vaginal discharge and experiencing severe abdominal pain that is not eased with painkillers.  If you do have an infection you will be given antibiotics to clear it.  Not treating an infection at all or completely can result in further, more serious health issues such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and infertility so it is important to go to your GP or clinic as soon as possible. 

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