Making the decision
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions about abortion, but the important thing to remember when you are pregnant is that you are absolutely allowed to make your own choices, and to do what is right for you and your life.
If you are pregnant and are thinking about having an abortion, it might help to ask yourself these questions:
- Is anybody putting pressure on me to have an abortion?
- Is anybody putting pressure on me not to have an abortion, even though I think I want to?
- Who can give me information, help, and support?
- Is this what I want?
- Does abortion fit in with my personal beliefs, religion and culture?
- What are my partner’s views on abortion?
- How will I feel after I have an abortion? How will those feelings impact my life?
- What are my options if I don’t have an abortion?
- How will having an abortion fit in with my work, education, or training opportunities and life goals?
- How will you cope after an abortion? What support do you have if you feel anxious, depressed, or upset?
- Do I think I will have any regrets later: next month, next year, in five years?
The British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS) produce a ‘Think you might be pregnant?’ booklet which you can download from their website. This contains useful information that can help you decide.
You can find more information about abortion to help with your decision at:
You can find more on your rights, confidentiality and services at:
The facts about abortion
- abortion is safe and does not cause infertility
- abortion is free on the NHS
- legally, a young woman can request an abortion aged 13+ without her parent’s consent if the doctors who see her agree she is capable of making this decision alone and competently
- you can change your mind at any time -some women even leave the clinic on the day of the abortion
I’ve decided I want to have an abortion. What do I do now?
There are some basic steps to requesting an abortion and it is easier than you may think.
- You will need to have the pregnancy confirmed by a health professional who can refer you to the clinic. This could be your own GP, or a doctor or nurse at Morley Street CASH service or at a SWAY clinic.
- You will be given a letter and a date to attend your first consultation at the termination clinic.
What happens at the clinic consultation?
- At your first clinic appointment you will speak with a counsellor who will go through your decision with you and you will be able to ask any questions and arrange post abortion contraception.
- The clinic will give you an ultrasound to determine how many weeks pregnant you are and a staff member will talk to you about the types of abortion available.
- You will then speak to a doctor or two doctors and sign a consent form
- Then you will get another appointment to return to the clinic for an abortion
You can see a video of what happens at the first clinic consultation on the BPAS website at www.bpas.org/bpaswoman/consultation%20appt
What happens on the day of the abortion?
This will depend on the type of procedure you have, the most common procedures are surgical and early medical abortions.
A surgical abortion will be performed while you are asleep and it is a minor surgery which is performed in a day. You would need a responsible adult to take you home afterwards.
An early medical abortion involves taking a tablet at the clinic on one day and returning to the clinic for another tablet which induces a miscarriage and you will go home for this. You would need a responsible adult to be at home with you.
You can see a video of what happens at the clinic for a surgical procedure on the BPAS website at www.bpas.org/bpaswoman/Surgical%20Asleep%20Appt
You can see a video of the clinic visit for an early medical abortion on the BPAS website at www.bpas.org/BPAS woman/Abortion%20pill%20treatm
What happens after the abortion?
Although there will usually be a little pain and bleeding, recovery usually happens fairly quickly for most women after an uncomplicated abortion.
Please call NHS Direct or, if you're a BPAS patient, their aftercare line immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after your treatment:
- lasting pain
- discoloured or smelly vaginal discharge
- abdominal tenderness
- a general feeling of being unwell
- continuous and heavy bleeding that soaks two or more pads in an hour for two hours in a row
Alternatively, you could call your clinic during opening hours, visit your local A&E without delay, or seek an urgent appointment with your GP.
For BPAS patients, their aftercare line 0800 247 1122 is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our nurses are available to answer all your questions or if you are worried about anything at all.
What to expect
You can see a short video on the BPAS website to help you to get a good idea of what to expect after your abortion treatment at www.bpas.org/bpaswoman.php?page=314. The video footage shows an actress playing the part of a client after an abortion treatment.
Most women bleed for around one to two weeks after an abortion, and they can use sanitary towels during this time. Bleeding will be like a normal menstrual period and you may also pass some small blood clots. In most cases the bleeding will then stop but you may experience spotting until your next period.
If your bleeding soaks two or more sanitary towels per hour for two hours in a row, contact the clinic, or an aftercare line urgently for advice. If you cannot call, go to A&E.
Most women experience off and on cramping for about a week after an abortion. Take ibuprofen and paracetamol to control pain if necessary. You can buy these over-the-counter pain medicines from a pharmacy, supermarket and other shops without a prescription. If these medicines are not controlling your pain please call the clinic or, if you're a BPAS patient, call their aftercare line on 0800 247 1122.
After an abortion most women feel relieved, but some may also feel sad or guilty. It is a good idea to have someone with you afterwards so if you do need support, you have someone you know and trust to help you along.
If you feel you need to talk to someone about anything at all, call 08457 30 40 30 to make an appointment for post-abortion counselling. This is a free service for women who have had treatment at BPAS.
You can take a bath or shower as normal. Take care if you have a bath in the 24 hours following a general anaesthetic, you will need to make sure someone is around to keep an eye on you, in case you are still feeling drowsy.
Resuming daily activities
Most women will be fit and well enough to return to normal activities within a day or two. Our best advice is to rest until you feel able to return to your normal routine.
To reduce the risk of infection we advise against having sex for one to two weeks, but if this isn’t possible, you must use a condom to avoid infection. Fertility returns almost immediately after an abortion, so it is important to use contraception.
It is best not to travel within 24 hours of treatment. If you must travel just make sure you know how to access emergency services at your destination in case of a complication. Please be aware if you are having the abortion pill and choose to travel soon after taking the second medication (misoprostol), that you may start to have cramps and bleed heavily whilst you are travelling.
Resuming your period
Your next menstrual period will begin for to six weeks after your treatment. If you have not had a period four weeks after your treatment, you should do a pregnancy test. If it is positive ring the clinic. It’s important to remember that any bleeding immediately after your treatment is not a period.You can download the recovery section from the BPAS guide and find more information at www.bpas.org/bpaswoman/after-an-abortion.
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