HEALTH ENCYCLOPEDIA

Diseases & Conditions A - Z
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Unplanned Pregnancy

Options

Almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you become pregnant unexpectedly, looking at all of the options and deciding on what to do can be very overwhelming. Talk with a spouse, partner, or people close to you and consult with a doctor to help guide your decision.

Parenting

As a prospective parent, you must accept the responsibility of raising a child. It's important to assess whether you and your spouse or partner can financially and emotionally handle this life-changing decision. There are many resources available to new parents regarding childcare, child support, and education. Using the available resources will help you with your decision.

Adoption

Contact local adoption agencies if you're thinking about adoption. They can guide you in starting this process.

Many emotions can come into play throughout the adoption process. It's important to remember that you can set guidelines that work for you throughout this process. You can decide what kinds of parents will raise your child. The adoptive parents can be involved with the pregnancy or not based on what you’re comfortable with.

The positive side to having the adoptive parents involved from early on is that you'll get to know them. This will help you determine if they'll provide an upbringing that you support.

Abortion

Abortion is a procedure that terminates a pregnancy. Most abortions are performed during the first 13 weeks of a pregnancy. This procedure is legal in the United States, but restrictions vary from state to state. In some states, parental consent is required for people under the age of 18.

Abortion costs range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on how far along you are in the pregnancy. Many medical insurance providers cover the procedure.

Consult your doctor to find out if they perform abortions. If not, they can direct you to another medical provider who does, or to a local clinic like Planned Parenthood.

Abortion Methods

Vacuum Aspiration

A dilator is used to physically open the cervix after numbing it with a local anesthetic. Medications may also be used to soften and open the cervix. A thin tube is then eased into the uterus through the cervix. The tube is attached to an electric or manual pump, which applies suction to the uterus, creating a vacuum that removes the contents of the uterus, and terminating the pregnancy.

Abortions are safe and normally take no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. You can go home the same day the procedure is done.

You may have some cramping after an abortion. You shouldn’t have sex or insert a tampon for up to two weeks to let the uterus heal properly without infection. Heavy menstrual-like bleeding and blood clots are common. The clinic will give specific instructions about the amount of bleeding and how long it may last.

Abortion Pill (RU-486)

A drug-induced abortion can be done up to 63 days after conception. The abortion pill, mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex or RU-486), works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without this hormone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and a pregnancy cannot continue.

A second pill called misoprostol (Cytotec) is used in conjunction with mifespristone. Misoprostol is taken within three days after taking mifespristone. Misoprostol helps in emptying the uterus. In addition to these medications, antibiotics are given to reduce the risk of infection.

Bleeding for up to four weeks after a drug-induced abortion is common. A doctor visit is required, and an ultrasound is usually performed to ensure the abortion is complete and that all contents in the uterus have been removed.


Content licensed from:

Written by: Tracy Stickler
Published on: Jan 12, 2015
Medically reviewed on: Jan 12, 2015: Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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