If a woman desires a termination of pregnancy, she first needs to schedule an office visit at San Francisco Women's Healthcare. At the first visit, a pelvic exam, screen for infections, and an ultrasound are performed. The provider will discuss abortion options; at the end of the visit, lab work is ordered, and the appropriate appointment is made. A patient may decide to have a surgical or medical abortion. Complications from either procedure are rare, and neither method should affect a patient from getting pregnant in the future.
Surgical abortion is also known as a suction aspiration abortion. The procedure is usually performed in the office for an undesired pregnancy which has been confirmed by ultrasound to be of 10 weeks gestational age or less. During the procedure, the doctor cleans the vagina and cervix and applies a numbing medication. Then, the cervix is dilated and a thin, narrow tube is inserted into the uterus. A gentle suction on the other end removes all of the pregnancy tissue. A medical abortion uses medications to terminate a pregnancy. Only available to women who are confirmed to have a pregnancy of 7 weeks in age or less, medical abortions are about 95% effective and take place over the course of two weeks. The first medication is an injection which interferes with tissue growth, and the patient is ordered to avoid folic acid foods during this time. The second medicine is placed into the vagina and causes the tissue to be expelled. Follow-up appointments are necessary after both surgical and medical abortions to ensure the procedures are complete.
Medical abortion is not the same as emergency contraception. Emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill, works to prevent unwanted pregnancy by inhibiting or delaying ovulation and irritating the lining in the uterus to prevent implantation.Emergency contraception is about 75% effective if taken within 72 hours of intercourse. This only works if pregnancy has not already occurred. Once pregnancy has occurred, only the medication used during a medical abortion can terminate the pregnancy.