Medical abortion in India
Medical abortions also simply called early medical abortions are abortions done with the help of abortion pills. In India, all abortions are technically called medical termination of pregnancy and are governed by the provisions of the medical termination of pregnancy act of 1971 or MTP act 1971. This article is specifically written to help you understand medical abortions. Also, it is necessary to understand that the term “medical termination of pregnancy” includes both surgical abortions and medical abortions. The difference is that medical abortions are done with abortion pills (these are also called abortion tablets or abortion drugs) and surgical abortion involves cleaning the uterus with surgical techniques (for more information on surgical abortion, click here-Surgical Abortion in India).

Many a times due to various reasons one may face the challenge of an unplanned or an unwanted pregnancy. An unplanned pregnancy, may cause a lot of physical and emotional stress to the couple or the woman. In India, abortions are legally done up till 20 weeks of pregnancy in approved centers as per the mtp act of India. However, medical abortions have good success and is the abortion procedure of choice till 7 weeks of pregnancy. Beyond 7 weeks, the effectively of medical abortions decreases and surgical abortions are recommended as the best abortion method.

For a detailed idea of how abortions are done please click this link- Abortion services- legal & safe and Cost of abortion in India

How to get a medical abortion?

The most important advice is that you should be sure whether you want an abortion or not. If there is any doubt in your mind, share it with the gynecologist or your family physician. Most abortion specialists are trained to counsel the woman or the couple so that you make an informed choice.

The two choices faced by you are: to get an abortion and to continue with the pregnancy. Be very specific about what you want so that the necessary protocol is started.

The gynecologist may do a basic examination, order a few tests and an ultrasound that will help in guiding the treatment process as per your decision. The ultrasound helps in assessing the gestational age or the pregnancy age. This ultrasound dating method done in early pregnancy may help you accurately date the pregnancy and gives you vital information to decide whether medical abortion or surgical abortion is the best abortion method in your case.


What are medical abortion pills?

Medical abortion pills also called pregnancy termination pills are tablets that are used to do abortion before 7 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion pills are also sometimes used after 7 weeks of pregnancy as an adjuvant to surgical abortion technique. The abortion pills are sold in India only on prescription of a registered gynecologist. It is sometimes difficult to get abortion pills at a local pharmacy but abortion pills are usually available at pharmacies located near or inside an abortion clinic or a hospital certified for abortions.

The abortion pills available in India are usually a kit containing 5 tablets- one tablet of mifepristone 200mg and 4 tablets of misoprostol 200mcg. Mifepristone is also called RU 486 and both are different generic names for the same tablet. The mifepristone tablet is given on the first day and the misoprostol tablets are given on the third day. The lady usually gets cramps on the third day of treatment after consumption of misoprostol tablets. After sometime, heavy vaginal flow may take place associated with the passage of clots. The process may last for 4 to 10 hours. Once the products of conception are passes outside, the cramps and vaginal bleeding subsides.

All medical abortions should compulsorily be done under supervision of a certified abortion doctor and abortion complications are reported. After a week of the medical abortion process, the lady should undergo an ultrasound to confirm a complete abortion.

For more information on Abortion Pills click here- Cost of abortion pill in Indian rupees

Tips for a safe abortion:

  • Schedule the third day of treatment (abortion day) on a week day. This avoids the weekend when many medical services are sub optimal. Also find out if your abortion specialist is working in the hospital or abortion clinic on that day. If there are any complications during the process, it is easy for you to reach the same doctor.​
  • Use the misoprostol tablets in the morning hours. The medical abortion process lasts for 4 to 10 hours. During the medical abortion, if you need transport to the hospital, it is more accessible. Also any complication happening during the day is better managed before night fall.
  • Have a light meal of breakfast. One of the common side effects of the abortion pill is nausea and vomiting. This can be decreased if your tummy is light.
  • Don’t be alone. A company is vital so that any help can be timely provided. A family member, your partner or a trusted friend may help.


Recovery after medical abortion.

Complete recovery usually takes place within 10 to 15 days. The recovery process is usually smooth if the abortion process is done under supervision of a abortion doctor. The abortion doctors are trained health care providers who also assess you for any complications of abortion.

The first menstrual date after abortion may be irregular but this usually settles with time.

The lady should ideally stay in communication with the abortion doctor and report of any untoward symptoms like fever, foul smelling discharge vaginally or excessive pain in the lower abdomen.


Abortion pill side effects and risks

Abortion pill side effects experienced commonly are nausea, vomiting, tremors and fever like feeling. Usually these abortion pill side effects pass off.

Excessive vaginal bleeding- this is not as such a side effect of the pills but a risk of medical abortion. The lady may at times have vaginal bleeding at an alarming rate and she may lose lots blood. In this case, visit the abortion doctor immediately as this is an emergency.

Retained products also called incomplete abortion is also a risk. In early pregnancy, the possibility of this occurring is lesser. An ultrasound done during a follow-up visit helps in finding out if there are any retained products after medical abortion. If any retained product is seen, they may need to be removed surgically by suction evacuation.


Is abortion pill available over the counter?

In India, as the mtp act of India, abortion pills are not available over the counter. Abortion pills are sold in a pharmacy only on prescription of a registered abortion doctor (gynecologist). It is important to note that the abortion pills have various side effects and risks and should not be consumed without the supervision of abortion doctor.


Medical abortion vs surgical abortion

Medical abortion is done with the help of abortion pills and surgical abortions are done by surgical techniques like suction evacuation.

Medical abortions are possible only till 7 weeks of pregnancy after which the risk of retained products and complications increase. However, surgical abortions can be done safely till 10 weeks of pregnancy. A different surgical abortion method is used after 10 weeks till 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Recently, there has been a rise in the number of patients opting for the suction evacuation method of surgical abortion. Suction evacuation can be done at any time from 5 weeks till 10 weeks of pregnancy and is usually done under deep sedation or general anesthesia. The entire abortive process is about 10 to 15 minutes in the hands of an expert abortion doctor and is relatively pain free. The patient usually goes home after a few hours of monitoring on the same day. Some insurance companies also reimbursement for this process. However, the surgical abortion is more expensive than the medical abortion. The choice rests with the patient.

Can you take an abortion pill at one month?

Abortion pill can be taken at 1 month of pregnancy but only under supervision of an abortion doctor. 

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