Here are some frequently asked questions regarding The Ryan Center and the abortion process:
First-trimester pregnancy termination (Abortion) options:
If you are less than 11 weeks pregnant, you have two options for termination. One option is a surgical abortion, called a Dilation & Curettage (D&C), which can be performed in the office. The second option is a medication abortion, which is completed at home.
How do I choose between a D&C and a medical abortion?
The choice between a medication abortion and a D&C is mostly a personal decision. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Requires no surgery
Potential for greater privacy
People report it being "like a miscarriage" or it "feeling more natural"
It requires fewer office visits
The procedure time is very short
Women do not have heavy bleeding at home
Expect to have heavy bleeding at home
The patient needs to return to the clinic to ensure the procedure was successful
Some women experience other side effects, such as nausea or fever from the medications
Has the risks of all surgical procedures (bleeding, infection, damage to surrounding organs)
Requires you to have a longer office visit (4-6 hours
What is a D&C?
A D&C is a simple surgical procedure used for termination of pregnancy. It can be safely completed in the office for most patients who are up to 13 to 14 weeks pregnant. During the procedure, the doctor will dilate the cervix so that a tube can be inserted. Suction is then used to remove the pregnancy through the tube. The whole procedure lasts about 10-15 minutes.
What will happen during the procedure?
When it is time for your procedure, you will be asked to undress from the waist down. The procedure will begin in the same way that a pap smear begins. The doctor will first examine the size and shape of your uterus. Then, a speculum will be placed in the vagina in order for the doctor to see your cervix. Your cervix will then be cleaned with soap to help prevent infection. Next, medication will be injected into your cervix to help with cramping and make the procedure more comfortable for you. Once this is complete, the doctor will begin to dilate or open your cervix. Once your cervix is open enough, a tube will be placed inside the uterus and using suction, the doctor will remove the pregnancy. During the opening of the cervix and the suction procedure, you will experience cramping similar to period cramps. The suction part of the procedure takes only take a few minutes. Once this is complete, the doctor will check to make sure the procedure is complete.
Will I be awake during the procedure?
Yes, procedures performed in our Ryan Center clinic for women in the first trimester are performed while the woman is awake. You can bring music or headphones to listen to during the procedure if you wish. There will also be someone available to hold your hand during the procedure, if you wish.
Will I feel pain?
Before the procedure, you will be given ibuprofen to help ease the pain during the procedure. Additionally, the medication we inject into your cervix will help with cramping during the procedure. You will have cramping, similar to period cramps. We will provide you with a heat pack to help with the cramping.
How long will I be there?
Your entire visit may last up to 5-6 hours. This may seem like a long time but there are many steps to each visit: vital signs, ultrasound to date the pregnancy, review of your medical history, pregnancy options counseling to ensure you are sure of your decision, blood work, payment, counseling about contraception, counseling about your procedure, medications and the procedure itself. The procedures are before the end of the clinic.
What can I expect after?
The cramping will start to ease up shortly after the procedure is complete, however, you can expect to have some cramping intermittently over the next few days. You may take Ibuprofen to help with the cramping. You will experience some spotting, like a light period, which may last for 2 to 3 weeks. Most women feel ready to go back to work or school the next day. If you need a note for work or school for 1-2 days please let us know and we are happy to provide this after your procedure.
Do I need a follow-up visit?
We do not schedule routine follow-up after surgical abortion. Surgical abortions are very safe procedures and you do not have to come back for a follow-up visit after a surgical abortion unless you are having problems/concerns You will be given our contact information you should call with any concerns. The provider who answers the call will help you schedule a follow-up appointment if you need one.
Will this affect my ability to get pregnant again in the future?
An uncomplicated procedure will not affect your ability to get pregnant again in the future. There is no proven connection between abortion and future infertility. In fact, some women begin ovulating or releasing an egg within 7-14 days of the procedure.
Can I get birth control during my visit?
Depending on what insurance you have, you may be able to get contraception at the time of your surgical abortion. For options and discussion of what may be available to you, please ask your doctor during your visit.
An abortion can be completed safely using only medications for women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant. The process begins in the office, where you will be given a pill to swallow called Mifepristone. This pill will start the abortion process. The doctor will give you some medication to take home, called misoprostol, which you will insert in the vagina when you are at home. The combination of these two medications will cause you to have an abortion at home, which will be similar to having a miscarriage at home.
What can I expect after I take the medications?
After you take the first medication in the office, you probably will not have any symptoms. Some women will experience some spotting. After you place the misoprostol in your vagina at home, within 1 to 6 hours you will start to experience some cramping and vaginal bleeding. Typically, the cramping and bleeding will get heavier until you pass the pregnancy. Most women pass the pregnancy within 12 hours of inserting the pills into the vagina. Once the pregnancy has passed, the bleeding and cramping will start to get lighter. You may see some pink or yellow tissue along with the bleeding. Some women will also experience nausea or diarrhea.
Will I experience pain?
During the heaviest part of the bleeding, you will experience cramping that will feel similar to strong period cramps. You will be given a prescription for pain medication that you can take at home to help control the pain.
How much bleeding will I have?
You will experience bleeding that will be similar to a very heavy period. You may pass some blood clots and need to change your pad frequently. This very heavy bleeding only lasts 1-3 hours. After the pregnancy tissue passes the bleeding will slow down but bleeding may last 2-3 weeks.
Are there any long-term side effects?
There are no long-term side effects of medication abortion for you.
Do I need to come back?
If you are greater than 9 weeks pregnancy - In order to make sure that the pregnancy has passed, you will need to come back to the office 1-2 weeks after your first visit so that you may have an ultrasound.
Less than 9 weeks- You will have the option to complete a telephone follow up that includes taking a home permanency test or returning for an ultrasound to ensure the pregnancy has passed. We will discuss these options further at your appointment.
What happens if it doesn’t work?
The two medications result in an abortion for around 95% of women. However, some women may need additional medication to help complete the abortion or a surgical procedure called a D&C to remove the pregnancy.
Is the medication abortion the same as the morning-after pill?
No, these are different. The morning-after pill is not an abortion pill. The morning-after pill is a pill that can be taken 1-3 days after sex to prevent pregnancy from happening. The morning-after pill does not work if you are already pregnant.
Is it reversible?
Once you have taken the medications for a medication abortion, there is no way to reverse the process. The medications can result in severe birth defects if the pregnancy is continued.
Can I get birth control during my visit?
Depending on what insurance you have, you may be able to get birth control during your follow up visit. For options and discussion of what may be available to you, please ask your doctor during your visit.
Is abortion safe?
No matter what option you choose for your abortion, modern-day abortions are safe and effective. Millions of women undergo abortion in the United States each year. The complication rate for patients undergoing an abortion is very low, and the risk of serious complications is much less than that of childbirth.
What are the possible risks of an abortion?
Like any medical procedure, there are possible risks associated with abortion. These complications are rare but may include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Damage to your cervix or your uterus
- Allergic reaction to a medication
How will I feel after my abortion?
An abortion is a very personal experience for each woman. Aside from some cramping similar to menstrual cramps and some bleeding, most women feel fine enough to return to work or school soon after their abortion. There are a wide range of emotions that a woman may experience after an abortion, which may include relief or sadness. It is important to call the Ryan Center if you experience any feeling of hopelessness or depression.
What happens to the fetal tissue after my abortion?
After your abortion, a pathologist will review the tissue to make sure that the entire pregnancy was removed and that the tissue is normal. You can elect to have the hospital dispose of the tissue through a cremation process, or you can choose to have your own private cremation or burial.
Can I bring someone with me to my clinic appointment?
Yes, you can bring a support person with you to the appointment. We do ask that no children are brought to appointments.
Can I eat and drink before my appointment?
You may eat and drink normally prior to your appointment. If you are undergoing any additional procedures or a procedure on another day, the doctor will give you instructions about eating and drinking.
How soon can I have sex after my abortion?
To help protect you from infection, we recommend waiting at least 7 days before having sex or using tampons.
Can I take a bath after my abortion?
You can bathe normally after your abortion.