Given the unnecessary stigma attached to abortion, unmarried women sometimes hesitate to get professional and timely help. Thankfully, a recent amendment bill to reform the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, has made abortions more accessible. But when faced with an accidental pregnancy, what exactly do you do?
Do you carry on with your pregnancy, or do you terminate it? While it’s entirely your choice, at first, you might find both these options daunting. To help you make an educated decision, we are diving into some abortion fundamentals.
What is an abortion or medically terminated pregnancy?
Abortion is a deliberate termination of pregnancy, which can be done either medically or surgically. A medical abortion (using pills and medication) is done in cases where the pregnancy is less than 7 weeks old and a surgical abortion is performed in cases where the pregnancy exceeds 7 weeks.
Is it legal?
In India, abortion is legal if it’s done before 20 weeks (and 24 weeks for exceptional cases) of pregnancy. Any woman (married or not) can seek an abortion with the opinion of one medical practitioner (and two in the case of above 12 weeks) if they think that there is either:
- A risk of life to the mother or grave injury to her mental or physical health
- A risk to the child (physical, mental or severe foetal abnormalities)
- Failure of contraception
- Rape, incest or sexual assault
Normally, only the pregnant woman’s consent is needed for an abortion. A guardian’s consent is needed only when the pregnant woman is a minor or a mentally ill woman.
Will an abortion affect your fertility?
No, having an abortion will not affect your fertility in the future. Many women who have abortions go on to have successful pregnancies later. Medical abortions have proven to be safe and not affect fertility. With repeat dilation and curettage procedures (e.g over 4-5), the lining of the uterus can accidentally be scraped off causing scarring in the uterus known as Asherman’s Syndrome which can affect fertility. This is very rare and can be managed by a fertility specialist.
Are there any other complications of abortion?
Abortion is a safe procedure with very few risks for the most part. However, if you have co-morbidities or are obese, you should consult an obstetrician before doing so.
With a medical abortion, heavy bleeding and cramping are expected initially until the pregnancy is expelled. Complications can occur such as heavy or prolonged bleeding and infection with both medical and surgical abortions. In rare cases, a medical or surgical abortion may not completely terminate the pregnancy and may need another procedure to remove it. Injury to the uterus during the surgical procedure is extremely rare, occurring in 1 in 1000 women.
(https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abortion/risks/) In this case, the physician may check for injuries laparoscopically putting a camera in your abdomen to check for injuries. It’s important to go to government-approved centres or certified gynaecologists for these procedures.
What should you do post abortion?
Medical abortions have little to no physical recovery period, although the emotional recovery may be longer.
If you have undergone a surgical abortion, you can expect to resume your normal activities the next day and may be given a short course of antibiotics after. After an abortion, it’s normal to experience light bleeding and cramping up to 2 weeks, mood swings and tenderness of breasts. Your periods should return anywhere between 2-12 weeks after an abortion. This is a good time to think about what kind of contraception you want to use to prevent another undesired pregnancy.
Reviewed by Dr. Shailly Prasad, MD/MBA, Resident Physician, Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician or trained professional.