Abortion is a bit of a taboo subject. Rather than go into the arguments for or against it, however, our concern in this article is simply to deliver facts that may be of use to you if you or a friend is considering abortion and wish to know more about the safety of the procedure at various stages. So, how risky is an abortion at 16 weeks? What about an abortion at 24 weeks? In this article we will discuss 1st and 2nd trimester abortion information, including methods and associated risks, so that you will be well-versed in what you need to know. If you are ready let’s get started.
First trimester abortions risks
What are the methods and risks associated with a 1st trimester abortion? Generally, during the first 12 weeks, abortion is most likely to be effective and at this is considered the safest time in which to perform one. The means commonly employed for 1st trimester abortion are as follows:
- Aspiration – Performed up to 16 weeks after your last period, this is a surgical abortion procedure for an unwanted pregnancy. It is also known as dilation and curettage.
- MVA / Manual vacuum aspiration – Less invasive, this procedure requires only a local anesthetic and is may be employed for a pregnancy in the 3 – 12 week stage of progression.
- Methotrexate & Misoprostol – Utilized up to the first 7 weeks of pregnancy, this method is more commonly employed outside of the U.S. (with mifepristone being employed more commonly due to availability of the drug by comparison.).
- Mifepristone and Misoprostol -Also known as ‘the abortion pill’, this combination is utilized for pregnancies that have proceeded to the first 7 to 9 week time period.
2nd trimester abortion procedures
Let’s say that you or someone you know wanted to know if there is any risk of an abortion performed 13 weeks into a pregnancy. A second trimester abortion is where things get a little more tricky. First let’s discuss the methods and then we will go into the associated risks. Abortions performed in the 2nd trimester will typically employ one of the following methods (we are leaving out dilation curettage as we’ve mentioned it previously):
- Induction abortion – Rarely performed, this procedure involves the injection of urea, salt water, and / or potassium chloride in the amniotic sac. Pitocin is also injected intravenously as prostaglandins are introduced into the vagina.
- Dilation and evacuation – Employed for pregnancies that have proceeded past 16 weeks, this is a surgical procedure that is utilized for the termination of a pregnancy.
2nd trimester abortion risks
Complications can arise but they are rare. In fact, statistically the risk of death associated with childbirth is 14 times higher than the risk associated with abortion. Complications that can arise:
- Infection – While the chances are very small (.1 to 4%, to be specific), infection can occur and generally manifests within 2 to 3 days of the procedure. As a preventative, doxycycline is often taken one hour before and after the procedure. It is inexpensive and highly effective and as such, the chances of infection are minimal.
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation – A condition where hemorrhaging has occurred as well as coagulation of the blood. Typically cryoprecipitate or frozen plasma is employed for this.
- Embolism – Another rare possibility, embolism can occur in approximately 10-20 out of 100,000 abortions. While rare, it has a mortality rate of 80%.
- Uterine rupture – Uterine rupture can occur with 2nd trimester abortions. The risk factor is increased if the patient has had a caesarian delivery prior to the abortion, however, the number comparison still indicates that this is very rare (.28% for patients who have had a Caesarian prior to the procedure vs. .04 for those who have not.).
” Physicians who notice this during an abortion procedure may require a laparoscopy.”
- Cervical laceration – This can occur in 3.3% cases of abortions. Risk factors include the patients age (this occurs most in patients at an advanced age) and the level of experience of the medical practitioner,
- Uterine perforation – This can occur at a frequency of .2 to .5% and are generally avoided with proper cervical preparation. This can cause extreme pain and heavy bleeding if the artery has been nicked. Physicians who notice this during an abortion procedure may require a laproscopy or laparotomy in order to correct the issue.
- Retained tissue matter – Also known as an incomplete abortion, this is when tissue or other matter remains after the abortion procedure. This is also very rare, occurring in less than 1% of patients who undergo an abortion procedure during the second trimester of development.
Understanding risk factors properly
While we attempt to be as informative as possible, the best thing that you can do if you would like more information is to contact your local women’s health center and schedule an appointment. The doctors and nurses there are going to be well-versed in all aspects of abortions and the risks associated with them and better, they can determine if there are any variables in your make-up that might present a higher chance of risk in regards to a later term abortion. This can help you to make the most informed decision with a complete understanding in regards to the safety of the procedure specifically for YOU. Whether you want more details on how an abortion is performed at 24 weeks or 12 (a 24 week abortion is actually quite rare, comprising 1% of abortions performed), they will have all of the specifics that you need.
Some final words
In this article we have attempted to inundate you with facts so that you can make an informed decision in regards to abortion. Remember, there are many resources out there should you require more information and some of them are just a phone call or an appointment away. Whatever you decide, we wish you the best.