Abortion is the ending of pregnancy by removing an embryo or foetus before it can survive outside the uterus. It uses medicine or surgery to remove the embryo or foetus and placenta from the uterus.
The procedure should be done by a licensed health care professional.
Methods of abortion
There are three methods of safe abortion, depending on how far along the pregnancy is.
a. Medical abortion (MA)
This is hereby only pills are used to induce an abortion
b. Manual vacuum aspiration (MVA)
This involves evacuation of the contents of the uterus, either manually by the use of a hand-held plastic aspirator or with an electric vacuum pump.
c. Dilatation and evacuation (D&E)
This is the dilation of the cervix and surgical evacuation of the contents of the uterus.
It is a method of abortion as well as a therapeutic procedure used after miscarriage to prevent infection by ensuring that the uterus is fully evacuated.
Complications of abortion
The main risks include:
1. Heavy or persistent bleeding
Bleeding after an abortion is usually a lot heavier, given that this is a forced process. This abnormal blood loss may occur if the cervix is punctured or is torn during the abortion process.
One may require a blood transfusion as excessive bleeding can lead to anaemia or death.
2. Infection or sepsis
If unsterilized tools are used during the abortion, it could lead to sepsis. This could also occur in the event of an incomplete abortion, where parts of the foetus are left in the uterus.
Infection after an abortion can also cause infertility in a woman by preventing further pregnancies.
3. Damage to the cervix
Normally, the cervix is usually tightly closed. However, In order to perform an abortion, the cervix must be stretched open with a great deal of force in a short time.
This causes tears, cuts or damage of the cervical muscles. The damage caused to the cervix increases the risks of infertility, labour complications, premature birth or miscarriages.
4. Scarring of the uterine lining
While performing the surgery, surgical instruments are inserted inside the uterus through the vagina and cervix.
Curettes are used to scrape the tissue lining along the wall of the uterus. These can leave permanent scars on the uterus lining.
5. Perforation of the uterus
During an abortion, a number of tools are inserted in the uterus. Those tools could easily penetrate a blood vessel causing perforations in the uterus.
This results in severe cramping, heavy bleeding and fever. One may have to get the uterus removed to avoid further complications.
6. Damage to other organs
The surgical method of abortion has many risks associated with it. An improper handling of the instruments used to perform the surgery can cause some injury to the organs near the uterus.
Usually the bladder and the bowel are at a higher risk of getting injured.
Death may occur In the event of uncontrolled excessive bleeding or untreated infections especially in cases of unsafe abortions conducted by untrained persons or in an environment lacking minimal medical standards or both.
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