Ending a Pregnancy
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What is abortion?
Abortion means ending a pregnancy early. In some cases, a woman’s pregnancy ends on its own. This is called a miscarriage, or a spontaneous abortion. In other cases, a woman chooses to end her pregnancy by taking medicine (called medical abortion) or having surgery (called surgical abortion). They are performed by a healthcare provider and other health care professionals in the hospital, healthcare provider’s office or health center.
What is medical abortion?
A medical abortion is an abortion caused by medicine. It can only be done in the first 9 weeks of pregnancy. It takes place over 1-2 days at home.
You will receive a prescription for Mifegymiso which can be filled at a pharmacy. The package will contain two medications; mifepristone (1 tablet) and misoprostol (4 tablets). On day one, you will take the mifepristone tablet. This blocks progesterone, a hormone needed for pregnancy. It causes the lining of the womb (uterus) to become thin. 24-48 hours after taking the mifepristone, place the misoprostol tablets between your cheeks and teeth. Leave them there for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes you can swallow any pieces that remain with water. You will start to bleed within 1-4 hours
Your healthcare provider will want you to return to have bloodwork to make sure the pregnancy has ended.
Many women have bleeding for about 13 days after taking misoprostol. Light bleeding or discharge (called spotting) can continue for several weeks. After 1-2 weeks, you will have a follow-up visit to be sure that the medicine was effective.
What does medical abortion feel like?
For most women, medical abortion feels like a bad menstrual period with strong cramps, diarrhea and upset stomach. These symptoms are normal. Acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (two brand names: Advil, Motrin) can help relieve the cramps. However, your healthcare provider will want to know if any of the following occur:
- Bleeding is soaking through more than 2 maxi pads an hour for more than 2 hours in a row.
- More than 24 hours after you took misoprostol, your temperature is more than 38° C (100.4° F).
- Pain even after taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen
How effective is medical abortion?
Mifepristone is about 97% effective. In rare cases when medical abortion doesn’t work, surgical abortion may be tried.
What is surgical abortion?
Surgical abortion is a procedure done by a healthcare provider to remove pregnancy tissue using suction. Surgical abortions can be done later than medical abortions, how much later varies by province.
What does surgical abortion feel like?
For most women, surgical abortion feels like strong menstrual cramps. Women are usually given medicine to help with the pain and told to rest when they get home. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also help. Bleeding may continue off and on for a few weeks.
How effective is surgical abortion?
Surgical abortion is nearly 100% effective.
Are abortions safe?
When done by health care professionals during the first trimester, both medical and surgical abortions are generally very safe. Serious complications are rare. Abortion generally does not reduce a woman’s ability to get pregnant in the future.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Nova Scotia Women’s Choice Clinic
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(Callers may also leave a message at any time and staff will return the call during these hours.)
Tel: 1-844-365-8258 (toll-free)