How Is An Abortion Performed?

3.11.2010 | By: T. B.

Abortion is a very sensitive subject, but many people are interested in finding out what ways there are to have an abortion performed.


Don’t hesitate to ask medical staff any question you may have about abortion. (PhotoXpress)

Don’t hesitate to ask medical staff any question you may have about abortion. (PhotoXpress)

In many countries an abortion is legal and it means the artificial end of a pregnancy, when the embryo isn’t capable of independent life. An abortion is, therefore, a legitimate means for prevention of pregnancy. Most countries ensure the possibility of free choice when it comes to birth. That’s the law. But what does abortion mean in real life?

Types of abortion

An abortion can be performed in many ways. Which of the ways are possible also depends in which trimester you have it performed.
Abortion pills are effective from 5 to 7 weeks of pregnancy. Bleeding can last a few days and even as long as one month. Menstrual extraction is performed even before the pregnancy test is positive. Suction, dilation and curettage, abortion with partial birth, hysterotomy or a premature and a hysterectomy are all ways to artificially end a pregnancy.

An abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy

An abortion can be performed at the request of the pregnant woman without the mediation of a doctor’s committee until the tenth week of pregnancy. You go to a hospital with a referral from your gynecologist and you usually have to talk to a social worker there as well. In case the pregnant woman wants an abortion after the tenth week of pregnancy, a doctor’s committee of the first degree has to approve this. In case they reject it, a doctor’s committee of the second degree must approve to artificially end the pregnancy. The man who impregnated the woman doesn’t have to give his consent.

The most abortions, about 90%, are performed in the first trimester – until the twelfth week of pregnancy. From a medical point of view, an abortion is a pretty simple procedure which doesn’t take up much time and doesn’t require hospitalization. If there are no complications, you leave the hospital the same day. Spontaneous abortions are also typical for the first trimester. About 80% of spontaneous abortions happen in the first trimester. In some countries, a spontaneous abortion is when the pregnancy is ended before the 22nd week of pregnancy or before the embryo reaches 500 grams (more than a pound) in weight. The most common reasons for a spontaneous abortion are chromosomal abnormalities of the embryo, inherent and acquired uterus anomalies, infection (salmonella, microplasma, ...) endocrinologic disturbances, immunological disturbances.

An abortion in the second trimester

When a pregnancy is longer than 10 weeks, the request is handled by a committee of the first degree. If it finds out that the legal conditions for an artificial end of pregnancy aren’t being met, the committee rejects the request for an artificial end  of pregnancy. In seven days, the pregnant woman has the right to demand that a committee of the second degree decides on the matter. The doctor’s committee allows an artificial end of pregnancy to take place if the abortion poses less of a danger to the pregnant woman and the child than if the pregnancy was continued.

The second trimester is the period from the thirteenth to the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy. There are more preparations for an abortion to be made here and the recovery also takes longer. After an abortion in the second trimester, it’s recommendable to postpone another pregnancy for at least three months.

What happens to the body after an abortion?

Abortion is very strenuous on the body. It causes many unexpected changes. An abortion requires a lot of experience, which means that the doctor performs it by feeling. This can mean that the abortion isn’t completely done or the uterus wall has been pierced, which can bring on infertility and, in the worst case, the removal of the uterus. The bleeding, which is reminiscent of menstruation, stops in a fortnight. It can also happen that a brown secretion is mixed into the blood. You may feel spasms for a few days because the muscles of the uterus are contracting back to their normal size. Women who have had an abortion after nine weeks of pregnancy can start lactating or secreting a liquid similar to milk. The milk will stop flowing in one to four weeks. It’s recommendable to wear a bra 24 hours a day during this period, so that excessive stimulation of the nipples doesn’t occur.

Find more information on abortion in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality.

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