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Beyond Pregnancy: Managing Women’s Health through Surgical Termination and Beyond
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May 29, 2024
Dr Hina

Having an abortion is a difficult decision for most women to make. It can also be an emotionally challenging experience and many people seek support from close friends and family members. 

It’s important to note from the very start that we all cope with things differently. You may experience a whole range of emotions during and after your abortion procedure. Please know this is normal and there is no wrong way to feel. 

In this article, we will share our tips for managing women’s health through surgical termination and beyond. We hope the information we share helps you.

What is Surgical Abortion?

A surgical abortion is where the pregnancy is removed from the womb. There are two ways this is achieved: 

Vacuum or Suction: this is where the pregnancy is removed from the womb via suction. This is a method of surgical abortion that can be used up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. 

It involves inserting a small tube into the womb through the cervix and removing the pregnancy via gentle suction. Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, your doctor may need to use special instruments to help remove the pregnancy. However, this will be discussed with you before your procedure.

The procedure takes about 5-10 minutes and you can usually go home just a few hours later. 

Dilation and Evacuation: this method is used after 14 weeks of pregnancy and involves inserting forceps into the womb to remove the pregnancy. It is typically more uncomfortable and is therefore usually carried out while you are sedated or under general anaesthetic. The procedure only takes 10-20 minutes and you can typically go home the same day.

Abortion Care: Increasing Your Comfort

Having an abortion can be extremely nerve wracking. Many women feel nervous or sick at the thought of attending their appointment, with most worried about the level of pain they may experience. 

However, it’s important to start off by saying that your level of comfort is our top priority. At Gynaedoctors, we do everything we can to ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout your surgical termination. Here are some of the ways we aim to increase your comfort:

Professional Support

Abortion care is a delicate thing. That’s why we have a team of experienced and fully trained professionals available to support you throughout. Our care team will be with you every step of the way, ensuring you receive the best support and care possible. 

Pain Relief

Depending on the type of abortion you have, we will discuss the pain relief options with you. A few of the most common include: 

It is important to note that not all of the above will be available to you depending on the type of procedure you are having. However, we can discuss the options with you and you will be able to share your preferences. After all, your comfort is our utmost priority.

Abortion After Care

Once you have had an abortion, you might be wondering ‘what next?’ How do you take care of yourself? What are the rules for sex, tampons, and going back to work? What symptoms should you expect and how can you manage them? We answer all these questions and more below.

Your Recovery

Post-abortion recovery timeframes differ for each woman. While some women heal very quickly, others take longer to recover. It is also important to consider the emotional impact of having an abortion. You may find that processing your emotions is a lot more challenging than the physical healing side of things.

However your recovery goes, here are a few tips to help you through.

Prioritise Plenty of Rest

The most important thing you can do after a surgical or medical abortion is rest. Your body has been through a lot – emotionally and physically – and you need time to recover. While most people can return to work and resume their normal activities after one day, it’s important to take as much time as you need to recover fully.

Avoid Strenuous Activity

While it can be tempting – especially if you feel able – to launch back into your full timetable. It’s important to take things slowly. You should especially avoid any strenuous activities for the first few days after your procedure as these are likely to trigger pain and may worsen any symptoms of bleeding.

Avoid Driving for 24 Hours

After having an abortion, it’s important you have someone who can take you home (if you’re not taking public transport). This is because some procedures require the use of pain medicines and these can make it unsafe for you to drive. Your doctor will highlight this to you during your appointment but you can always ask if you’re feeling unsure.

Avoid Having Sex 

It is generally recommended that you avoid having sex or wearing tampons for 2-3 weeks after having an abortion. This is especially important for women who’ve had a surgical abortion. The reason for this is that inserting anything into your vagina too soon can irritate it and can also increase your risk of infection. So, it is best to avoid these things until enough time has passed.

Pain Management

You may experience cramping after your procedure. This should only last a few days and can be managed by taking paracetamol or ibuprofen. Many women find that using a hot water bottle helps relieve discomfort, as well as massage, deep breathing, stretching, and plenty of rest. After a few days the cramping should subside and you should feel more yourself again.

Ease Nausea

Some women experience nausea following an abortion. Just as with cramping, symptoms of nausea should ease after a few days. In the meantime, many women find it helpful to drink ginger ale, peppermint or chamomile tea. Others find it helpful to wear sea sickness bands, lie down, and get plenty of rest.

Further tips for reducing nausea.

Always Attend Your Follow-up Appointments

It is vital you attend any follow-up appointments after your abortion. This is because your doctor will want to check and make sure the abortion is complete and also ask you about your symptoms to confirm there are no adverse side effects to worry about. Your follow-up appointment is also a great time to share any concerns and ask any questions you may have.

Be Aware of Complications

Complications can occur after an abortion, especially if you don’t take the time to rest and recover. While abortions are considered safe and major complications are rare, it is important to be aware of possible complications so that you know what to do should they happen to you.

Here are the main complications a woman might experience after having an abortion:

Infection

It is possible to get an infection after both a surgical and medical abortion. This is why it’s so important you avoid taking a bath, swimming, having sex, and using tampons in the first few weeks after an abortion. Common signs of infection after an abortion procedure include:

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, it is important to contact your doctor. They will prescribe you antibiotics to reduce the effects and help you recover. 

Incomplete Abortion

Although rare, incomplete abortions can happen. They occur when a pregnancy is not completely removed from the womb. The signs and symptoms of an incomplete abortion include: 

If this happens to you, contact your doctor straight away. It is important you have a procedure to complete the abortion.

Injury to Organs

Some women may experience injury to their organs as a result of the abortion procedure. These injuries could be to the womb, bowel, or bladder and are more likely in later-term abortions. In very rare cases, some women experience tearing to their uterus or cervix. If this happens, you should seek medical help. 

Haemorrhage 

Some women experience such heavy bleeding after their abortion that they start haemorrhaging. This can be life threatening. If you are bleeding excessively, you must call an ambulance and seek immediate medical help.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Although we have shared the various symptoms and side effects you might experience after an abortion and when to call your doctor, it is important to contact your doctor any time you need support. An abortion is a difficult thing and it can be harder or easier to deal with than you expect. So, it’s important you know that our team of doctors is available to offer support.

Final Words

We hope the information we have shared in this article will help you manage your physical and mental wellbeing during and after your abortion procedure. If you have any questions or you would like to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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