In Australia, a medical abortion has only been widely available since 2012 and essentially allows you to terminate your pregnancy without undergoing surgery. This option is generally only effective up to 63 days post impregnation.
The choice between this option and the surgical alternative very much depends on personal preferences and the circumstances of your pregnancy.
For the majority of women, this option has meant that they can pursue a termination with greater discretion and with less invasiveness. It has also made it easier for women living outside of the major cities to access a termination where it is difficult for them to access a surgical clinic.
A medical abortion in Sydney is viable for up to 9 weeks of gestation and is accomplished through the combination of two medications working together to effectively terminate the pregnancy.
The first dosage can be administered by a medical professional or by you at home. It works as an anti-hormone, undermining the progesterone that’s required for the pregnancy to continue. The second tablet is taken between 24 to 48 hours the first and needs to be held between the cheek and gums for 30 minutes before swallowing.
The second tablet works by helping to open the cervix and encourage the uterus to expel the pregnancy tissue. This can take place anywhere between 30 minutes to 24 hours post absorption and women can expect cramps as well as vaginal bleeding.
Nearly all women can have a medical abortion without any complications, although there are some exceptions such as those taking certain other prescriptions. Your doctor will be able to help you determine if this option is suitable for you by reviewing your medical history.
Associated risks of a medical abortion
This option is an effective and safe way to terminate a pregnancy of up to 9 weeks, but does carry some risks:
- 1-4% of attempts result in an incomplete termination, meaning that not all tissue is effectively expelled from the uterus. This can result in a great deal of cramping and bleeding that, if not settled, may require intervention with a surgical procedure.
- In less than 1% of attempts the pregnancy will continue at which point a surgical procedure is required.
- Infection can occur in less than 1% of cases.
- 1 in 1000 women may suffer excessive bleeding that requires transfusion.
What you can expect after the second tablet
As mentioned, cramping and vaginal bleeding are to be expected within a few hours after consumption of the second tablet. This severity of these effects will vary between different women.
The bleeding will normally last between 10 to 16 days, with 2 to 3 of those days being heavier than a regular menstrual cycle. Some side effects can also include diarrhea, chills, vomiting, nausea or fever – however they are normally mild and don’t last very long.
If the bleeding is absent, you may require a repeat dosage of the second tablet or pursue another means of termination. Consult your doctor if this occurs as soon as you can.
What are the advantages of a medical abortion?
If you do not want to undergo surgery and your pregnancy is under 9 weeks gestation then you can feel comfortable pursuing a medical abortion.
- No anaesthetic required
- More discreet than the surgical methods
- No surgical risks
- You can do it at home with the support of friends and loved ones
- Many women cite it being more natural feeling, as it is similar to a miscarriage or heavy period
Your decision about whether or not to get a medical abortion or go the surgical route is entirely yours. If you are still unsure, don’t hesitate to talk to you doctor.