1 where can I go for help? what is an abortion? ask brook about abortion do my parents have to know?
2 ask brook about abortion Finding out that you re pregnant might just be the news that you ve been waiting to hear. But sometimes a pregnancy can be unwanted for many different reasons. If you are pregnant and not sure what to do you may already be considering having an abortion. Whatever you may have heard about abortion and whatever your views on the subject, it s important that you read this booklet before making a decision.
3 First up... If you ve just found out that you re pregnant, you re probably feeling lots of different emotions. Whether you decide to have the baby and become a parent, have an abortion or consider adoption, it will not be an easy decision.there are certain things to consider that might help you in the choice that you make: How would you feel if you decided to have an abortion? How would you feel if you decided to have the baby and give it up for adoption? Will the people around you support you if you continue with the pregnancy or if you decide to have an abortion? What are your own views on abortion? Is this a good time for you to have a baby? Were there other things you wanted to do before having a child?
4 Did you know? About 90% of abortions are carried out before the 13th week of pregnancy. Need to talk to someone? It s really important that you have the space and the time to think through all the options before taking any further steps. Brook recommends that any pregnant woman who is not sure what to do should be offered the chance to discuss the choices available to her. You can talk through your options and discuss how you re feeling with a trained counsellor in a relaxed and confidential environment. Counselling is available at some contraceptive clinics, young people s services, though GP surgeries and at Brook Centres (for under 25s). Remember, this is your decision, no one else can make you have an abortion or have the baby.
5 When can I have an abortion? If you are going to have an abortion, it is advisable to have it as soon as possible. However, the legal limit in England, Scotland and Wales is under 24 weeks in most cases. Some doctors and nurses choose not to perform abortions after 20 weeks, but must refer the woman onto someone who will. The weeks of the pregnancy are calculated from the first day of a woman s most recent period. Does where I live matter? If you live in England, Scotland and Wales you can have an abortion paid for by the NHS.You can also choose to pay for an abortion privately even if you are not registered with a GP. In Jersey and Guernsey the limit for an abortion is 12 weeks except in exceptional circumstances. In Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man abortions can only be performed in exceptional circumstances, such as when there is a serious risk to the woman s physical or mental health and this is long term or permanent. Most women who want abortions will travel to England, Scotland, Wales or other European countries.
6 Different types of abortion There are various types of abortion procedures. Which one is used depends partly on what stage the pregnancy is at. There are two main types of early abortion procedures: Early medical abortion Also referred to as EMA or abortion pill. This involves taking a tablet which will cause loss of pregnancy, similar to a miscarriage. Three visits to the clinic are needed.the first is an assessment and then two visits 1-3 days apart. This method can be used if the pregnancy is no more than nine weeks. Surgical abortion (vacuum aspiration) This procedure involves a small tube being inserted into the vagina to quickly remove the pregnancy by gentle suction. A general or local anaesthetic is used, depending on the woman s preference. This method is used up to the 15th week of the pregnancy.
7 There are two main methods for later abortions: Medical abortion This involves taking a tablet like the EMA, but using higher doses. This is similar to having a late miscarriage. You can usually return home the same day but occasionally it is necessary to stay overnight. This method can be used from 9 to 20 weeks. Surgical dilation and evacuation (D&E) This method involves gently stretching the cervix so that a surgical instrument can be passed into the womb to remove the pregnancy. It is performed using general anaesthetic. This method is used in cases where the pregnancy is more than 15 weeks. Did you know? EMA or the abortion pill is not the same as the emergency contraceptive pill. The emergency contraceptive pill prevents a pregnancy from happening, but the abortion pill ends a pregnancy that s already happened.
8 What happens after the abortion? After an abortion you will receive written information about what to expect, a 24 hour helpline number to call and an opportunity to discuss future contraception. Most hospital or clinics will ask you to come back for a checkup.this should take place within three weeks of having an abortion. You may feel quite emotional, tired, run down or sad for a few days.these are all perfectly normal. It can sometimes help to talk to a counsellor after an abortion. With all types of abortion there will be bleeding, similar to having a period for up to three weeks afterwards. The bleeding may stop and start during that time. After EMA, the side effects can include a severe cramping pain which usually lasts for around 4-6 hours. Painkillers can help to relieve this pain.
9 Are there any risks? Abortion is a very safe and straightforward procedure but as with all medical or surgical procedures there are risks. The most common one with any type of abortion is the risk of infection.there are a few things that can help lessen the risk. The most important thing is to take any antibiotics that are given to you. It is advisable to use sanitary towels and not tampons, avoid swimming pools for two weeks, avoid sex for two weeks (or if you do have sex, use a condom for protection), and to have showers rather than baths. You should seek medical advice if you have had an abortion and experience any of the following symptoms: a high temperature, bleeding which is heavy enough to soak through three or more pads in an hour, abdominal tenderness, smelly or discoloured vaginal discharge. It is very rare that an abortion carried out by surgical methods can cause damage to the cervix or womb. If you have recently had an abortion and are experiencing any symptoms that you are worried about, you should always ring the hospital or the clinic for professional advice.
10 How do I go about getting an abortion? If you ve decided you want to have an abortion, the first step is to go to a Brook Centre, your usual doctor (GP surgery), a contraceptive clinic (family planning clinic), young people s service or other pregnancy advisory service who can sign a notification form and arrange for you to have an abortion. The next thing that will happen is that you will have another appointment for a consultation with a second doctor or nurse at an abortion provider. At a later date you will attend the local hospital or the abortion clinic where the abortion will take place. You can call the Ask Brook helpline on for local services and more information. you. Some doctors and nurses are against abortion.they can refuse to help you but they must refer you onto someone else who can help
11 Did you know? If you do decide to have an abortion, it does not need to be included on your main medical records Not registered with a GP? You can register with a GP by ringing You will be told which GP surgery you can register with. You will usually need to attend the surgery for an appointment and fill in some forms.you do not need to tell them that you are pregnant or that you are thinking of having an abortion. If you do choose to have an abortion, it does not need to be included on your main medical records.
12 How long does it take to arrange an abortion? The waiting time for an abortion can be between 2-4 weeks, although in some areas it might be quicker. A private abortion is usually much quicker to arrange. Did you know? It is important to remember that you can change your mind at any time before the abortion takes place.
13 Abortion Your questions answered... Do my parents / carers / others have to know? No.You do not have to tell anyone that you are having an abortion if you don t want to. But having an abortion is never an easy decision, so it is always advisable to talk to someone you can trust. What if I am under 16? If you re under 16 you can have an abortion without parental consent as long as you fully understand the treatment you will receive and give your consent. A doctor will need to assess how well you understand the situation and will encourage you to inform your parents or carers if at all possible. Is it confidential? Yes. Everyone has a right to confidentiality, even if you re under 16. However if you are at risk of harm, you will be strongly urged to seek further support.
14 Abortion Your questions answered... Will I be able to have children in the future? Yes. Having an abortion does not affect your chances of conceiving and having a baby in the future, as long as there are no problems with the abortion, such as injury to the womb, the cervix, or serious infection, though it s very rare for these to occur. Do abortions always work? Yes, most of the time. Approximately two in every thousand don t work.this can be detected with a pregnancy test three weeks after the abortion. In the unlikely event that you are still pregnant, you would need to return to the hospital for further treatment. How much does it cost? Abortions are free on the NHS. But you can choose to have a private abortion. Costs vary, but start at around 500 for EMA.
15 Abortion Your questions answered... Will I be back home the same day? Unless the abortion is carried out after 20 weeks, it is unusual to have to stay overnight in the hospital or the clinic. Will my family doctor be informed? No.You can ask for your doctor not to be informed. Information about your sexual health, including abortion can be recorded separately from your usual medical care records. How soon after an abortion can I have sex? In order to avoid any risk of infection, it is best not to have sex within two weeks of having an abortion. But if you do have sex before, use a condom to help prevent infection.you can get pregnant within two weeks of having an abortion, so it is important to start using contraception as soon as possible after the abortion. Some contraception can be arranged at the time of abortion, but services vary across the UK.
16 Abortion Your questions answered... What about men? An unplanned pregnancy and an abortion can be a difficult and emotional time for men too and they should also be able to access a full range of information and support. Deciding to have an abortion is a woman s choice and a man should never put pressure on a woman to do something she doesn t want to do. But men can sometimes feel pushed out, angry or confused if a woman makes a decision that they don t agree with. It s important for the man to seek support in order to help come to terms with this. If a man would like to speak to a counsellor about how he s feeling, he can arrange this through contraceptive clinics, young people s services, GP surgeries, Brook Centres (for under 25s), other pregnancy advisory services and some private abortion providers.
17 Abortion Your questions answered... How can I tell my parents/carers? Telling your parents/carers that you or your partner is pregnant can sometimes feel daunting. Everyone will react differently.they can be shocked and angry at first, but they may also be very supportive. Many young people find it a huge relief to tell their parents/carers that they or their partner is pregnant. Some people choose to sit down and talk to their parents/carers on their own, others like to bring someone that they trust with them for support. Some people find it helpful to write down the situation in a letter. If you would like to tell your parents/carers, but are too scared to or just don t know how to, you can ask to speak to a counsellor who can help you work out a way to tell them.
18 Where to get more help and advice... Now you ve read this booklet, if you have more questions, just Ask Brook. Ask Brook is for all young people under 25 anywhere in the UK. Did you know? Brook has a network of centres around the UK offering free and confidential sexual health advice and contraception to all young people under the age of 25. To find your nearest Brook Centre visit our website: or contact the Ask Brook information service.
19 Ask Brook offers a confidential helpline, secure online enquiry service and text information service. Ask Brook is available free and in confidence to all young people on or via Ask Brook on Brook's website, The Ask Brook helpline is free from all telephones, including mobiles. Anyone under 25 can ask us anything about sexual health, including information, support and signposting about relationships, contraception, abortion, body worries around sexual health, STIs and sexuality.tell us what s worrying you and we won t laugh, tut or tell. For information on key sexual health issues any time of day or night call our 24-hour information line You will hear a recorded message and will then be asked to choose the topic you want more information on from a list of options. Other organisations you can contact are: fpa s helpline. Open from 9am until 6pm Monday to Friday on Sexwise (for under 19s only). Open 7am to midnight every day on NHS Direct (for all ages). For medical advice 24 hours a day on (local call rate). Thank you to fpa for checking the clinical and factual accuracy of this booklet. June 2009
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