Being pregnant is probably one of the biggest joys for a couple. But, an unplanned pregnancy can be stressful. Though you might have used a contraceptive, sometimes, they may not prevent you from conceiving. Also, there might be situations when your body cannot support the healthy growth of a fetus. And so, you may have to terminate the pregnancy.
Abortion or stopping pregnancy prevents the advancement of pregnancy. And there are two viable options to do so after one month of conceiving or anytime in the first trimester. Medical and surgical abortions are both effective and do not affect a woman’s reproductive health. MomJunction helps you understand how to stop a pregnancy after one month of conception.
Avoiding Pregnancy After One Month
If you have decided to terminate a pregnancy in its early stages, say after a month, your doctor may suggest a medical, surgical or home-based options depending on your health and fetal status. However, termination of pregnancy with medicines is a better option since it is non-invasive.
How To Stop Pregnancy Without Surgical Abortion?
Some of the effective ways of stopping a pregnancy without any surgical intervention include:
1. Medical abortion
This method uses pills and is usually recommended within the first seven to nine weeks of pregnancy. You do not have to get admitted to a hospital as pills can be safely used in the privacy of your home (1). But you may have to visit the doctor at least thrice through the course of the treatment.
You will be put on a course of two tablets, mifepristone and misoprostol:
- First, mifepristone is given to block the progesterone hormone and for thinning the uterine wall lining.
- Misoprostol is given 48 hours after that to induce uterine muscle contractions. This leads to bleeding and cramping. The embryo and uterine remains will leave the uterus in the next few days. And the bleeding will continue for seven to ten days.
- An ultrasound is done after two weeks to ensure that everything is cleared and there are no tissue remains. If there are any retained tissues, they will be removed surgically.
2. Herbal abortion
Not everyone will choose this method of abortion. Several herbal infusions could lead to fetal morbidity and mortality, but there is no research to back such methods. Herbs such as parsley, oregano, and ruda among others are used to terminate a pregnancy by causing a miscarriage (2).
3. Saline water method
In this method, a small quantity of amniotic fluid is taken out, and the saline solution is administered into the amniotic sac directly using a needle. The salt solution burns the fetus, and the body undergoes labor around this time to expel the fetus (3). In some cases, labor does not occur, and prostaglandins are injected to induce uterine contractions.
[ Read: Top 16 Precautions To Avoid Pregnancy ]
If these methods do not work, you may have to choose the surgical options.
Surgical Abortion of Pregnancy
The surgical abortion that the doctor recommends will depend on the pregnancy stage. The two common methods include MVA (manual vacuum aspiration) and D&E (dilation and evacuation), which are performed in the hospital and require local anesthesia (4).
This is performed during the initial 12 weeks of pregnancy. Local anesthesia is used to numb the cervical region. Then the cervix is opened using a tenaculum and is held in a dilated position. A thin cannula, attached to suction, is passed into your uterus through the cervical canal to remove the fetus and uterine tissues. The procedure takes 10 to 15 minutes, and you may have to stay in the hospital for a few hours for optimum recovery. It is a relatively safe and gentle procedure.
This is performed in or after the 13th week of pregnancy and is usually the last option when the other methods to terminate the pregnancy after one month fail or are not viable.
A few hours before the actual procedure, a dilator is inserted into the cervix to help dilate it. The practitioner gives spinal anesthesia or general anesthesia to numb the cervical area. A tenaculum is then passed to open the cervix and uterus.
The cervical canal is dilated with probes of increasing size. Then a cannula, which is attached to a pump, is passed into the uterus. The pump provides a gentle vacuum to remove fetal and uterine tissues. Later, a curette is used to scrape the uterine lining and tissue residue. The procedure takes 15 to 30 minutes, and you may have to stay in the hospital for a few hours for optimum recovery.
The surgical option is an invasive method, and you may experience dizziness, cramps, nausea, and sweating during the procedure. Some may also have heavy bleeding, cervical damage, blood clots and perforation in the uterus. Also, there is a chance of infection, and you may develop fever and abdominal tenderness, for which you should see a doctor.
If you want to avoid the medical and surgical methods, you can consider the natural methods of abortion, which we talk about in the next section.
Possible Natural Ways To Stop Pregnancy
Consumption of certain fruits, vegetables, and beverages, as well as intercourse, can lead to an abortion, although not always. These natural methods are not 100% effective but can be tried to improve the chances of terminating the pregnancy in the initial weeks.
- Papaya: Papaya has phytochemicals that are abortifacient, and inhibit the progesterone hormone activity. It also contains prostaglandins and oxytocin that can stimulate contractions. This is the reason doctors ask you to avoid papaya during pregnancy (5).
- Pineapple: Pineapple contains a proteolytic enzyme known as bromelain that can soften the cervix. This could, therefore, lead to a natural abortion (6).
- Cinnamon: Raw cinnamon or cinnamon supplements are often used to stimulate the uterus to ease delivery. But if they are taken in excess amounts, they can cause an abortion (7).
- Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds have been traditionally used for causing abortion. Grind equal amounts of sesame seeds and palm jaggery, and take the mixture twice every day. It causes uterine contractions and aborts the pregnancy (8).
- Chamomile/green tea: High consumption of green tea or chamomile tea induces abortion. For chamomile tea, mix dried chamomile in boiling water, let it rest, strain, and consume it (9).
- Heavy exercises: Forceful and vigorous exercises, which are a strict no-no in the early stages of pregnancy, will work now (10). They might cause a miscarriage when combined with a diet of fruits and herbs mentioned above.
- Frequent intercourse: This can harm the fetus if done in the early weeks. The orgasms will lead to uterine contractions, causing an abortion. Also, the prostaglandins present in the semen are known to stop fetal growth.
While these remedies may work, proper procedure must be followed. and care must be taken, with guidance from your medical practitioner, to prevent any complications.
Dangers Of Home Abortions
Home abortions are safe only when the health care provider performs/ advises the necessary steps to complete the entire process. Otherwise, there could be complications such as (12):
- Infection of the womb
- Remains of fetal tissues in the womb
- Failure of termination
- Excessive bleeding that may require a blood transfusion
- Cervical damage
- Damage to the womb
- Mental health risks in some cases
It is essential to take rest, include enough nutrition and get the right treatment to return to normalcy in life. Your doctor is likely to offer you the required treatment and advice for your recovery.
How To Speed Up Recovery After The Abortion?
Though you can get back to a normal routine within a few hours of abortion, it is advisable to take rest for two to three days for your body and mind to cope with the exhaustion (11).
- Do not lift heavy objects that weigh over 50 pounds. They may aggravate bleeding and lead to complications.
- Do not indulge in exercise, including biking, running, and aerobics, to avoid risks.
- Monitor your body temperature every day at least for a week as high temperatures might indicate an infection.
- Avoid intercourse as the cervix is still tender and will not close quickly. Avoiding sex also decreases the risk of infections. Talk to your doctor to know what the best time to return to sexual activity is.
- Use hot compress, such as a hot water bottle or a heating pad on your belly to get relief from cramping and pain.
- Avoid swimming and tub bathing for at least two weeks. Otherwise, it may cause irritation and infection in the vaginal area.
- Do not use anything inside the vagina, such as tampons or contraceptive implants, for at least two weeks.
- Include a rich diet of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein, whole grains, and drink a lot of water.
It is advisable to see a doctor within a month after abortion to check if the healing is complete.
Terminating the pregnancy is not an easy option for many, and also you might regret it later in life. The process can take a toll on you physically as well as emotionally. You should, therefore, take enough time and seek the support of your partner and family to take the right decision. Consult your doctor for medical advice. Your doctor is only the best guide to take you through it.
If you have any experiences or advice to share, do write them down in the comment section below.
1. Medical Abortion; UCLA Health
2. Ciganda C and Laborde A; Herbal infusions used for induced abortion; J Toxicol Clin Toxicol (2003)
3. Christina Raup; Abortion; The Embryo Project Encyclopedia (2016)
4. Induced Abortion Methods & Risks; South Dakota Department of Health.
5. Gopalakrishnan M and Rajasekharasetty MR; Effect of papaya (Carica papaya linn) on pregnancy and estrous cycle in albino rats of Wistar strain; Indian J Physiol Pharmacol (1978)
6. Hengameh Khosropanah et al.; Assessing the Effect of Pineapple Extract Alone and in Combination With Vancomycin on Streptococcus sanguis; Jundishapur J Nat Pharm Prod (2012)
7. Molouk Jaafarpour et al.; The Effect of Cinnamon on Menstrual Bleeding and Systemic Symptoms With Primary Dysmenorrhea; Iran Red Crescent Med J (2015)
8. Improve Your Health With Dry Fruits and Medicinal Plants by Rajeev Sharma
9. Deema Hilmi Adawi; Prevalence and Predictors of Herb Use during Pregnancy (A study at Rafidia Governmental Hospital/ Palestine); An-Najah National University Faculty of Graduate Studies (2012)
10. R. L. Hammer et al.; Exercise During the Childbearing Year; J Perinat Educ (2000)
11. FAQ: Post-Abortion Care and Recovery; UCLA Health
12. Risks – Abortion; National Health Service (NHS) (2016)