Lorem Ipsum. Abortion: What can it do to a woman? Design: Issues in Health Aili Middleton

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1 Lorem Ipsum Abortion: What can it do to a woman? Design: Issues in Health Aili Middleton

2 Lorem Ipsum 2 Basic Information & Process Abortion is the premature termination of a pregnancy. It can be induced or spontaneous. What is abortion? The term abortion is generally used to describe the intentional termination of a pregnancy, while the term miscarriage is used to describe a spontaneous, unintended termination There are two main categories of abortion: therapeutic and elective. Therapeutic abortion is when the pregnancy is terminated to save the mother s life. Elective abortion is when the pregnancy is deliberately terminated for some other reason. Most elective abortions are performed during the first trimester (the first 3 months) of the pregnancy. How is abortion done? An abortion can either be clinical or surgical. A clinical abortion (sometimes called a medical abortion) is when drugs are used to terminate the pregnancy, and it can only be done in the first 9 weeks after conception. First, a drug called mifepristone is taken in pill form. This drug blocks progesterone, which causes the thinning of the uterine lining. Mifepristone is 97% effective; if it does not work, the doctor will most likely recommend surgical abortion. Then, another drug called misoprostol is taken a few days after mifepristone. This drug causes the uterus to contract and empty itself. Some women may bleed after taking misoprostol, and the bleeding may continue for a couple of weeks. Some of the anticipated side effects of clinical abortion are: an upset stomach, diarrhea, and strong cramps that are similar to menstrual cramps, which can be relieved with Tylenol or ibuprofen. The more serious side effects of clinical abortion are: extremely heavy bleeding, a high fever that lasts for more than 4 hours, and pain that does not subside even after taking painkillers. A surgical abortion is when the pregnancy is terminated by a surgical method, in which the lining of the womb is removed by suction. There are two ways this can be done. The first is by the use of an MVA (manual vacuum aspiration), which is a handheld tool. This method can only be used during the first 10 weeks of the pregnancy. The second method involves a suction machine and tools, called D&C (dilatation suction curettage). This can only be done between weeks 4 and 13. With both methods, the cervix is numbed and stretched open with a dilator; then a tube is inserted, and the uterus is emptied through the tube. Women have reported that surgical abortion feels like menstrual cramps. Surgical abortion causes bleeding, which may continue for a few weeks. Surgical abortion is almost 100% effective. Is abortion safe? If the abortion is carried out by a trained and approved doctor, in a clinical setting, it is usually safe. The chances of something going wrong are very low. In most cases, the woman s ability to get pregnant again is not affected by the abortion. However, it is not safe if an illegal method is used, such as using herbs to trigger a miscarriage (this could cause organ failures or even death), or attempting to use physical violence in order to traumatize the abdomen (this could cause serious internal injury). For example, 60% of abortions in Nigeria are carried out by untrained non-physicians, and as a result, 1 and 8 maternal deaths are caused by abortion.

3 Lorem Ipsum 3 What are the physical effects of abortion? Common Side Effects These side effects will continue 2 to 4 weeks after the abortion. Abdominal pains and cramps Nausea and vomiting Diarrhea Spotting and bleeding More Serious Complications 1% of first trimester abortions and 2% of late term abortions have these serious complications. Persistent bleeding Infection or sepsis (potentially fatal blood infection) Damaged cervix Scarring or perforation in the uterus Damage to other organs Most severe side effects Abortion patients must contact a doctor if they experience these severe side effects. The physical effects vary from woman to woman. Extreme and unbearable pain in the stomach and back Heavy and abnormal bleeding Foul-smelling discharge Long-lasting fever above 38 degrees Celsius, or degrees Fahrenheit Continuing symptoms of pregnancy Although it is unlikely, an abortion could potentially result in death. However, if everything goes smoothly, the woman s period will return 4 to 6 weeks after the abortion. Antibiotics may help relieve some of these side effects.

4 Lorem Ipsum 4 What are the mental, emotional, and psychological effects of abortion? What are the potential side effects? Like the physical effects, the emotional effects of abortion are different for each woman. The potential side effects are regret, anger, guilt, shame, sense of loneliness or isolation, loss of self-confidence, insomnia or nightmares, relationship problems, suicidal thoughts and feelings, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. The intensity and duration of these effects will vary for each person. Many women report that their abortion affected them more than they had expected. Is it likely that I will experience psychological side effects? Every post-abortion patient has a chance of going through the potential side effects, but some women are actually more likely to experience psychological problems as a result of abortion. If the woman has struggled with emotional or psychological issues in the past, was forced for persuaded to get an abortion, has religious beliefs that go against abortion, has moral or ethical views that conflict with abortion, had the abortion done during the later stages of her pregnancy, did not receive support from her partner during the abortion, or obtained an abortion because of genetic or fetal abnormalities, she is more prone to the psychological side effects. What are some recommendations for someone who is considering abortion? circumstances; ask yourself, Am I someone who is prone to experiencing psychological side effects? Discuss your situation with someone who can give you the right perspective. If possible, talk to someone who has experienced an unplanned pregnancy before and/or has had an abortion. Also, it is important to avoid isolation. Stay connected with friends and family members who will support you. Isolation can lead to depression. However, avoid people who pressure you, because you are the one who will have to live with whatever choice you make. Some statistics and facts... l Women who have had an abortion are 160% more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in the first 90 days following the abortion, than delivering women in the first 90 days following the baby s birth. l After only 8 weeks after their abortion, 44% of post-abortion patients experienced nervous disorders, 36% experienced sleep disturbances, 31% felt regret, and 11% had been prescribed psychotropic medicine. l Uses of medical and psychiatric services are significantly greater among women who have had abortions, according to a 5-year study done in two Canadian provinces. l Teenagers, separated or divorced women, and women who have had more than one abortion are more at risk of experiencing psychological problems. The most important thing is to get help. Consult trained professionals, ask questions, and discuss your individual circumstances. Evaluate your l Post-abortion patients tend to use repression (denial) as a coping mechanism. Repressed feelings may cause psychosomatic illnesses.

5 Lorem Ipsum 5 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder What is post-traumatic stress disorder? Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a psychological dysfunction. It is when a traumatic experience overwhelms a person s normal defense mechanisms. This results in intense fear, helplessness, the feelings of being trapped, or the loss of control over the mind and body. An event or experience is likely to be traumatizing when it includes threats of physical injury, sexual violation, or the witnessing or participation of a violent death. PTSD causes the disconnection of mental functions; a person with PTSD could either have intense emotions without a clear memory of the experience, have a clear memory without any emotions, or suffer from overwhelming flashbacks of the event and the emotions. How is PTSD related to abortion? There are several reasons why abortion could be traumatic: (1) the woman was forced into the abortion by her husband, boyfriend, parents, or others, (2) the woman has repeatedly experienced abuse, and the abortion is perceived as the ultimate violation of her body, (3) the woman perceives the abortion as the violent murder of their own child, or (4) the woman has a history of sexual assault, and the pain of abortion feels like rape. PTSD caused by abortion is referred to as post-abortion syndrome (PAS). 14% of postabortion patients have all the symptoms of PTSD. 65% have some, but not all symptoms of PTSD. 19% have actually been diagnosed with PTSD; the actual percentage is probably higher, because the women who experienced the most psychological distress refused to participate in the study. PTSD caused by abortion is referred to as post-abortion syndrome (PAS).

6 Lorem Ipsum 6 More about the mental, emotional, and psychological side effects... What are the symptoms of PTSD? The symptoms of PTSD are classified under 3 categories: hyper-arousal, intrusion, and constriction. Hyper-arousal: Hyper-arousal is when the person is constantly on alert for threats of danger, and their fight or flight defense mechanism is inappropriately activated. The specific symptoms include: exaggerated startle responses, anxiety attacks, irritability, anger outbursts, aggression, difficulty concentrating, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, and reactions to situations that resemble an aspect of the traumatizing experience. Intrusion: Intrusion is when the person gets flashbacks of the experience at unexpected times. The specific symptoms, in PAS cases, include: recurrent thoughts about the abortion or aborted child, moments when the woman re-experiences an aspect of the abortion, nightmares about the abortion or aborted child, and intense grief or depression on the due date of the terminated pregnancy, or the anniversary of the abortion experience. Constriction: Constriction is when the person s emotions become numb. The woman tries to avoid stimuli (people, places, things) associated with the trauma. Constriction can also be referred to as the stage of denial and avoidance. The specific symptoms, in PAS cases, include: the woman is unable to recall the abortion experience, tries to avoid activities and situations that remind her of the abortion, withdraws herself from important relationships in her life (especially those with people who were involved in the abortion decision), avoids children, avoids and denies thoughts and feelings about the abortion, stops feeling loving or tender feelings, loses hope for her future, loses interest in her hobbies, engages in substance abuse, and considers suicide. Some other mental, emotional, and psychological side effects... Sexual dysfunction: 30-50% of post-abortion patients experienced sexual dysfunctions, which began immediately after their abortions, of both short and long durations. Examples of this effect include: loss of pleasure from intercourse, pain during intercourse, aversion to males and sex in general, and the development of a promiscuous lifestyle. Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts: 60% of post-abortion patients experience suicidal thoughts. 28% attempted suicide, of which half made multiple attempts. There is a strong statistical association between abortion and suicide records. Also, suicide attempts are especially prevalent among post-abortion teenagers. Divorce and chronic relationship problems: Post-abortion couples are more likely to divorce or separate. Post-abortion patients have difficulty forming romantic, long-term bonds with a male partner. Relationship problems are caused by the loss of self-esteem, distrust of and aversion to males, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, depression, anger, and anxiety. Women with a history of more than one abortion (45% of all abortion cases) are more likely to become single parents, meaning they will need public assistance.

7 Lorem Ipsum 7 Some other mental, emotional, and psychological side effects... (continued) Alcohol and drug abuse: Studies show a link between abortion and increased rates of substance abuse. Alcohol abuse after an abortion can result in violent behavior, divorce or separation, auto accidents, and career loss. Drug abuse is linked with exposure to HIV/AIDS infections, congenital abnormalities, and assaultive behavior. Eating disorders: Post-abortion stress can lead to anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. These disorders can cause other mental problems such as depression. Child neglect or abuse: Abortion causes depression, violent behavior, substance abuse, replacement pregnancies, and reduced maternal bonding with children born after the abortion. These factors are related to child neglect and abuse; there is a link between post-abortion trauma and child abuse. Increased smoking: Post-abortion patients are twice as likely to become heavy smokers, with increased risk of negative health effects. They are also more likely to smoke during their pregnancies in the future, which increases the risk of neonatal death and congenital abnormalities. Repeat abortions: Women who have already had one abortion are four times more likely to have additional abortions in the future than women who have never had an abortion. 45% of all abortions are repeat abortions; studies show that postabortion patients use repeat abortions as a form of self-punishment.

8 Lorem Ipsum 8 Information: References Abortion. (2007, September). Possible physical side effects. Retrieved May 9, 2012, from American Pregnancy Association website: possiblesideeffects.html Abortion. (2007, October). Possible emotional side effects. Retrieved May 9, 2012, from American Pregnancy Association website: abortionemotionaleffects.html A list of major psychological effects associated with abortion. (2011, February 23). Abortion risks: A list of major psychological complications related to abortion. Retrieved May 9, 2012, from Elliot Institute website: Nordqvist, C. (2009, April 14). What is an abortion? Medical News Today. Retrieved from medicalnewstoday.com/releases/ php Images: [Child with black eye] [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from Cytotec [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from Eating disorder [Photograph]. (2008). Retrieved from Multiple addictions [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from PA Wire (n.d.). [Woman smoking] [Photograph]. Retrieved from healthnews/ /women-are-more-vulnerable-to-smoking-induced-cancers.html [Sad woman] [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from Severe menstrual cramps [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from Unhappy woman [Photograph]. (2011). Retrieved from WebMD, LLC (2011, September 20). [Woman touching her stomach] [Photograph]. Retrieved from Woman with stomach ache [Photograph]. (2012). Retrieved from com/wordpress/symtpoms/

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