Abortion is the wilful termination of pregnancy before the period of viability. Abortion facility is available legally under the MTP Act since 1971 in India. Despite that, unsafe abortions risking the lives of women are prevalent in the country. The risk to the life of the women is 8000 times higher for abortion done under unsafe practices vs 1 in 100,000 for that done following safe practices. Unsafe abortion as defined by WHO is the procedure for terminating an unwanted pregnancy either by a person lacking necessary skills or performed in an environment lacking minimal medical standards or both.
Medical abortion pills such as RU-486 and Prostaglandin have been approved for use with a very high success rate of 93% – 98% if used judiciously, that is after a thorough assessment of patient’s health status by a qualified medical professional.
Despite the high success rate and safety, there is an increase in life-threatening complications due to the dispensing of the drug by an untrained professional and consumption without proper medical supervision. Complications associated are mainly due to unsupervised administration and non-adherence to the recommended schedule.
Your eligibility is determined by a physical examination or an ultrasound by an expert. You are not eligible if you are facing any of the following conditions:
- Too far along in your pregnancy
- Ectopic pregnancy – pregnancy implanted outside uterus/ womb may be life-threatening
- Ovarian mass
- Anaemia/ bleeding disorders
- Liver or Kidney problems, heart disease or high BP
- Intra-Uterine Devices such as multi-load or Copper-T
- Intake of blood-thinning medicines
- Unable to follow up with your doctor
Side Effects of Pills Include
- Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heavy bleeding, and infection
- Surgical procedure might be required in 8-10% of the unsuccessful cases
- Major decision leading to emotional and psychological consequences
- Heavy and prolonged bleeding
- Fever and Headache
Life-threatening complications such as excessive bleeding requiring blood administration, severe infection requiring higher antibiotics or admission and death especially in case of undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy.
You should watch out for the following
- signs and symptoms which require emergency attention after medical abortion
- Heavy bleeding – soaking more than 2 pads an hour for 2 hours
- Severe abdominal or back pain
- High fever
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
Follow-up and Advice
Your doctor will prescribe you certain antibiotics and painkillers. Avoid intercourse or tampon use for two weeks after abortion.
It is recommended to follow-up with your doctor after 2 weeks of consuming the pills and if there is a suspicion of incomplete abortion or ongoing pregnancy, you may need an ultrasound.
There is a high need of educating the society regarding the need for medical counseling and supervision during an abortion to reduce the risk of unsafe abortion.
Disclaimer: The article is general advice and should not be considered as a medical prescription. You should consult a qualified gynaecologist before any medical procedure or query.