Will it hurt?
The amount of pain women feel with a medical abortion varies a lot. Some women feel no pain, others report it is like a period and a few say it is really intense. Typically, it is strong for 2-4 hours and then subsides like a period. Heating pads, massage, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen are very effective in managing pain. It is hard to predict how you will feel. We will provide a prescription for additional pain medications in case you need them.
Surgical abortions are done at Victoria General Hospital and usually there is very little pain. Sometimes you will be given medication an hour before surgery to soften your cervix, or have laminaria inserted into your cervix the day prior to surgery. These may cause some cramps. Just before the procedure starts, you will be given some medications to relax and calm you. Your cervix is frozen and the abortion is done in 5 to 10 minutes. Afterwards, you spend 30 to 60 minutes recovering (becoming fully alert) and ready to leave. Following the procedure, you may have cramps on and off for 1 to 2 weeks but these can usually be controlled with a heating pad or hot water bottle, Tylenol and/or Ibuprofen. The cramping is similar to cramps you experience with your period.
Will this affect future pregnancies?
No. the medications leave your body within days.
No. The surgery will not affect future pregnancies.
How much bleeding will I have?
Usually, the bleeding is heavier than a normal period. Often there are clots. The bleeding starts off heavily, and then gets less and less, as a period does.
Less than a period for 1-2 weeks. At about day 3 or 4 post procedure, you may pass some clots and the bleeding may be a bit heavier for a day or two.
How long will I bleed?
The length of time is different for everyone, but will be longer than a period. Once the bleeding starts, it can be as short as a week but can last much longer, up to 6 weeks. It is not heavy all the time.
The length of time is different for everyone but you will probably bleed for 1-2 weeks. Some women may bleed on and off until the next period.
What is the failure rate?
There is less than a 1% chance of failure and needing a surgical abortion. 2-5% of women need extra medication to completely pass all of the tissue.
There is less than 0.5% chance of a failed surgical abortion. There is less than 1% chance of needing another procedure if it is incomplete.
Is this safe?
There is a very small risk of infection or bleeding which would require treatment.
There is less than a 1% risk of infection or retained tissue.
What are the short-term side effects?
The side effects of the medical abortion don't last long. Some women will have chills, headache, fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Some women experience none of these. If you have these effects, they usually last a day or so, and you can take medicine to reduce the side effects.
There are no short-term effects except for waiting for the medication to wear off.
Do I have to make an appointment?
Yes. You must make an appointment by phone for a medical abortion. Because we need to have some information ahead of time, you cannot just "walk in". Usually we are able to schedule you within a week.
Yes. You need to have an assessment before surgery. Assessments are usually scheduled within a week. The assessment and surgery dates are not the same day. However, when you come for your assessment, you will be given a date for your surgical abortion.
How many appointments will I need at the clinic?
Usually 2. At the first visit, you will meet with the nurse educator, and discuss the safest option for the abortion and contraception. You then have an examination with the doctor including an internal ultrasound and STI testing and blood testing. 10-14 days later you will have another appointment to ensure the process was successful. You may have the option to go to a lab for follow-up. Please let the staff know when you book.
At least 2. At the first visit, you will meet with the nurse educator, and discuss the safest option for the abortion and contraception. You then have an examination with the doctor including an internal ultrasound and STI testing. You will have blood testing and your procedure day will be set up, usually within a week to 10 days. If your pregnancy is over 14 weeks, you will beed a lamanaria appointment the day before your appoinment at the hospital. We recommend a follow-up appointment 2 weeks after the procedure to ensure the recovery went well, but you can make this appointment with your GP.
Do you do ultrasounds?
Yes, our doctors are trained to do pregnancy related ultrasounds. This means they can assess the dates of your pregnancy, and check to see if the medical abortion has been successful.
What are the blood tests I will have?
You will have one for the Rh factor in your blood (your blood type) unless you have written proof of your blood type. Some women may have a test to measure the level of pregnancy hormone. If the pregnancy is very early (under 5 weeks).
You will have 1 blood test - for the Rh factor in your blood (your blood type).
Do I have to have an injection?
No. We would advise an injection only if your blood type is Rh Negative.
An IV is started for all procedures. You will also have an injection to freeze your cervix just prior to the procedure.
How is my pregnancy calculated?
We calculate the dates of your pregnancy from the first date of your last menstrual period. Most women become pregnant (conceive) 2 weeks after this. For example, when you miss your period by a few days you may think it is only 3 weeks since you got pregnant, but it would be 5 weeks since the first day of your last normal period. We would call this a 5 week pregnancy.
Why do I still have a positive pregnancy test after my abortion?
Pregnancy involves hormones and while the pregnancy may be gone it will take 2-6 weeks for your hormones to return to the non-pregnant state. This is why if you do a home pregnancy test just a couple days after your abortion it will probably still show as positive.
How much time will I have to take off work/school?
Most women take no time off work. Some decide to take off one day- the first day of heavy bleeding, when the misoprostol is used.
You will need to take off at least one day - the day you are scheduled for surgery. You will probably feel well enough to go back to work/school the following day, unless your job requires a lot of physical activity or is physically demanding. If this is the case, you may want to take an extra day or 2 off, or do lighter duties. You cannot drive for 24 hours after the anesthetic (IV sedation).
Do you have translators?
No. Unfortunately, we receive no government funding for counselling, medications or translation. If you don't speak and read English very well, you need to bring a friend or relative with you who can help you to understand the instructions.
Are abortions covered by MSP - What fees are there?
Your visit, assessment, time with the counsellor and the procedure are all covered by BC's medical services program (MSP). MSP also covers the costs of Mifegymiso® . If you do not have BC health insurance, you should discuss this when you book your appointment.