Dr. Tariq Jagnarine
Family Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetes
Abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy. It’s also sometimes known as a termination of pregnancy.
Abortion in Guyana is legal during the first eight to twelve weeks of pregnancy; and between 12 and 16 weeks, an abortion can still be legally performed, but only if the health of the woman or foetus is in danger. After 16 weeks, it is possible to perform an abortion only in the case of severe health-related circumstances.
Abortions are safer the earlier they’re carried out. The decision to have an abortion belongs solely to the mother. Some women may be certain they want to have an abortion, while others may find it more difficult to make a decision. All women requesting an abortion can discuss their options with, and receive support from, a trained healthcare staff. Speaking with one’s partner, friends, or family can be helpful.
DURING AN ABORTION
There are 2 options:
* Medical abortion (“abortion pill”) – Use of 2 medicines, usually 24 to 48 hours apart, to induce an abortion
* Surgical abortion – A procedure which is used to remove the pregnancy, and persons can normally go home soon afterwards.
After an abortion, people may need to take things easy for a few days. They can have some discomfort and vaginal bleeding for up to 2 weeks.
RISKS OF AN ABORTION
Abortion is a safe procedure. Abortions are safest and happen with less pain and bleeding when carried out as early as possible in pregnancy.
Most women will not experience any problems, but there is a small risk of complications, such as:
* Infection of the womb (uterus)
* Some of the pregnancy remaining in the womb
* Excessive bleeding
* Damage to the womb, or entrance of the womb (cervix)
If complications do occur, further treatment may be needed, including surgery.
Having an abortion will not affect a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant again, and having normal pregnancies in the future.
AFTER AN ABORTION
No test or appointment after a surgical abortion, or a medical abortion in a hospital, is usually needed. For medical abortion at home, a special kind of pregnancy test or scan can be done to make sure the pregnancy has ended. There may also be short-lived side effects from the medicines, such as diarrhoea and feeling nauseous.
For surgical abortion, the general anaesthetic and sedation medicines can also have side effects.
For all types of abortion, persons can have some stomach cramps (pain) and vaginal bleeding. Bleeding usually lasts a week or two. Sometimes light vaginal bleeding after medical abortion can last up to a month.
After an abortion, a woman can take painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol to help with any pain or discomfort, use sanitary towels or pads rather than tampons until the bleeding has stopped, have sex as soon as she feels ready, but she must use contraception to avoid getting pregnant again.
Once they feel comfortable after an abortion, a person can return to normal activity, including having a bath or shower, using tampons, exercising (including swimming), and heavy lifting.
WHEN TO GET MEDICAL HELP
Get advice if:
* Having pain or bleeding that does not get better in a few days
* Still feeling pregnant after about a week
* Having a temperature, flu-like feelings, or unusual vaginal discharge – these could be signs of infection
* Having any other worry.
Persons can experience a range of emotions after an abortion; this is common. Speak with someone about these feelings. They will be able to provide counselling, or refer you for counselling, if needed.
BUYING ABORTION PILLS
It’s against the law to try to cause your own abortion. This includes buying abortion pills without a prescription.
It’s difficult to determine if the pills sold are genuine, and they could be harmful.
Before doing anything, contact an abortion advice service offered at the GPHC family planning for FREE.