A termination of pregnancy may be carried out if the pregnancy threatens the woman’s physical or emotional health or if tests show a severe fetal disorder. All types of termination cause some abdominal pain for a few hours and a brown discharge for several days. Sexual intercourse should be avoided for 2 weeks afterwards.
There are several different methods of termination, depending on the stage of the pregnancy. The main methods and their usual timing are outlined in the table here.
|When done||Where done||Procedure used|
|Early medical abortion||Up to the 9th week of pregnancy||This method involves taking two drugs to cause an early miscarriage. First, oral mifepristone is given then, about 48 hours later, a prostaglandin drug is also given, usually as a vaginal pessary. These drugs induce the uterus to contract and expel the embryo and placenta, usually within a few hours.|
|Medical abortion||Between the 9th and 20th weeks of pregnancy||This method, which is similar to an early medical abortion, involves giving an initial dose of oral mifepristone then, about 48 hours later, also giving a prostaglandin drug, usually as vaginal pessary. However, several doses of prostaglandin may be needed to make the uterus contract and expel the embryo and placenta.|
|Suction termination||Between the 7th and the 12th weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes used before the 7th week and up to the 15th week||This procedure involves dilating the cervix and removing the contents of the uterus with a suction device. It may be carried out under either local or general anaesthesia. Before the procedure, the cervix may be softened by administering medication (for example, a prostaglandin pessary inserted into the vagina).|
|Surgical dilatation and evacuation||Between the 15th and end of the 23rd weeks of pregnancy||This procedure involves dilating the cervix and removing the contents of the uterus with forceps; any remaining uterine contents are then removed with a suction device. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia.|
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.