I just found out I'm pregnant and I'm absolutely certain I will have an abortion. But I am a bit scared I want to know what risks are involved in having an abortion. Are there different types of abortion that might be dangerous in different ways?
There is very little risk associated with abortion, particularly in early pregnancy. The most common risk is from infection after the procedure, but if you follow the instructions given by medical staff you can reduce this risk. Having an abortion should not affect a woman's fertility.
It's usual to feel shocked, scared, panicked or confused when facing an unplanned pregnancy. It's also normal to be anxious about abortion and it's important to clear up any concerns before your procedure. Professionals are there to provide information and support on the options available; the important thing is to talk to someone as soon as you can.
There are various abortion methods available in UK, both on the NHS and privately. The type of abortion a woman is offered will depend mainly on her stage of pregnancy and her health.
There are two main early abortion methods:
Medical abortion (known as 'the abortion pill')
Medical abortion can be performed in the first nine weeks of pregnancy and consists of an oral tablet and pessary. This method is not available on the NHS everywhere.
Vacuum aspiration (known as 'the suction method')
This method is available up to 13 weeks of pregnancy. For this procedure, the woman has either a general or local anaesthetic. The abortion is carried out through the vagina and there is no wound or stitches.
Most abortions in the UK are carried out under 12 weeks and usually involve the least complicated procedures. Women having an abortion at this stage are not usually required to stay in hospital overnight.
Methods used for later abortions will depend on the stage of pregnancy. A doctor or nurse will explain the exact procedure before the abortion goes ahead.
If you would like to find out more about abortion it's worth visiting your local doctor (GP), local family planning clinic or Brook Centre for free, confidential advice. Your doctor will be able to give you more information about abortion services in your area and it is possible to get a free abortion on the NHS, but there's usually a waiting list of between two to four weeks.
Before the procedure, you will attend a consultation where you will get to speak to a doctor who can explain the different methods of abortion, give advice on what to expect during and after your abortion. You should also be advised about the risk or potential complications prior to the procedure.
At Brook and many other services you will be able to have counselling before and after having a termination. This will give you the chance to go through your options and to discuss anything you are not clear on. If you are not offered counselling and feel you need to talk, let the service know.
If you want to discuss your situation before you see someone face-to-face, you can call the Brook Freephone Helpline on 0800 0185 023.
Question answered by YouthNet in association with Brook