FAQs (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)
Q: Who usually performs abortions?
Abortion is a surgical procedure which is performed most often by a licensed physician. The most experienced physician who can tend to your needs is a licensed and Board Certified or Eligible Gynecologist. At Pilgrim, our licensed surgeons are Board Certified or Eligible Gynecologists and have over 30 years of experience.
Q: What happens during the procedure?
During the procedure, you will lie on your back and your legs will be placed in stirrups. A speculum will be inserted into your vagina. The cervix will be held in place with a special instrument. The cervix will then be slowly dilated. This is done by inserting a series of slender rods that become progressively larger through the cervical opening. Usually only a small amount of dilation is needed (less than one half inch in diameter). Tissue lining the uterus will be removed, either with an instrument called a curette or with suction. In most cases, the tissue will be sent to a laboratory for examination.
Q: Is abortion dangerous? Does the stage of pregnancy matter?
As a minor surgical procedure, if done properly by an experienced individual, the probability of experiencing any problems as a result of an abortion is minimal. The expertise necessary to perform an advanced stage abortion can only be learned through experience. In the state of New Jersey abortion procedures beyond 14 weeks gestation are strictly regulated by the state and can be done only in a licensed facility by an individual certified in this area.
Q: Are there any long term health effects from having an abortion?
Some women worry that having an abortion could affect their future health. Most health care providers agree that one abortion does not affect your ability to get pregnant or the risk of future pregnancy complications. Recent studies have shown no link between abortion and breast cancer. For women with an unplanned pregnancy, there is no difference in the risk of depression or other mental health problems between those who have an abortion and those who have the baby.
Q: Will an abortion prevent me from having children in the future?
Pregnancy, which ends in delivery, miscarriage, or abortion, does not affect one’s ability for future fertility. There are no long-term effects from abortion.
Q: What complications can occur with an abortion?
Abortion is a low-risk procedure. Major complications that require hospitalization are rare. The risk of death from abortion is lower than 1 in 100,000 but increases slightly with every week of pregnancy. The risk of dying from giving birth is 14 times greater than the risk of dying from an early abortion. But as with any medical procedure, problems sometimes can occur.
These can include the following:
- Incomplete abortion — if the abortion is incomplete, a follow-up procedure may be needed. This is more likely to happen with a medical abortion.
- Infection—Your health care provider will prescribe antibiotics to prevent this. Antibiotics also can be used to treat an infection if one occurs.
- Heavy bleeding—Some bleeding after an abortion is normal. Bleeding is rarely heavy enough to require a blood transfusion.
- Injury to the uterus and other organs — The risk of these complications occurring during a second-trimester abortion is less than 1 in 1,000. The risk increases with the length of the pregnancy.
Q: What signs and symptoms should prompt me to contact my doctor after my abortion?
- Severe abdominal or back pain
- Heavy bleeding (soaking two maxipads per hour for 2 consecutive hours)
- Foul-smelling discharge
- A fever (above 100.4°F)
Q: Does the possibility of complication increase with the number of abortions that I have?
No. Each procedure is an individual event. The risk does not increase with the number of procedures one may have.
Q: How long before I can return to my normal activities?
The period of recovery depends upon the type of procedure one needs. After a D&C a patient can return to their everyday activities within 48 hours. After a D&E, return to normal activity can be expected within the same 48 hours.
Q: What should I expect if I have a problem at Pilgrim?
Our Gynecologists have full admitting and operating privileges at St. Barnabas Medical Center. In the event of a problem, you will be transferred to the hospital and our gynecologists will care for your needs.
Q: Can I eat or drink the day of surgery?
No. You are not allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes chewing gum and candy. Eating or drinking the day of surgery can result in throwing up. Throwing up under anesthesia can result in vomit being inhaled into the lungs causing pneumonia or other serious health problems.
Q: Can I drive after my surgery?
No. You are not allowed to drive for at least 24 hours after surgery. Anesthesia can slow your reflexes, thought processes, and even cause amnesia following surgery. You may think that you are able to drive, but your decision-making may severely impaired.
Q: Is a non-surgical abortion safer than a surgical abortion?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both procedures. The abortion pill may be taken up to 12 weeks after a missed period. This procedure usually causes more bleeding and cramping than a surgical abortion. However, some women prefer this method because there is no surgical or anesthesia risk involved. If our physician’s evaluation finds you eligible for either procedure, it becomes a matter of personal choice.
Q: Do I need the consent of my parent or spouse to have an abortion?
Currently, New Jersey Law does not require parental consent or notification. Although involving your parents, spouse or friend may be helpful in making the best possible choice, ultimately, the decision is up to you.
“The Doctor made me feel very at ease. I trusted that he knew what he was doing and he seemed to care about me.“
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