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Abortion Pills: How Safe Is Abortion At Home? Dr Shilpi Explains In Detail

How does the abortion pill work? After how many days of conceiving do the pills work?

Most women prefer an at-home abortion through medications when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Medical abortions can be conducted as soon as you learn about your pregnancy and are executed around nine weeks of pregnancy. Medical abortion is the most straightforward method to terminate an unwanted pregnancy but has side effects. Dr Shilpi Sachdev, MBBS, DNB, DMAS, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Apollo Cradle Maternity & Children's Hospital in Moti Nagar, New Delhi, explains everything about abortion pills and abortion at home.

How safe is abortion at home? Please explain in detail

Abortions carried out by the patient herself by popping pills are not safe without knowing the period of pregnancy and the site of pregnancy. If you are eight weeks pregnant or less, these oral contraceptives are only about 94% successful. If pregnancy is outside the uterus, that is, in tubes commonly, it can rupture and be life-threatening. Also, if the period is extended, it can lead to excessive bleeding, which can be dangerous for life. Therefore, it's always advisable to consult a doctor before any action about an unwanted pregnancy.

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Most of the time, people opt for abortion pills without a doctor's consultation. What is your take on this?

Being a gynaecologist, I have come across many complex cases in my life. Quite a lot revolve around unplanned pregnancies. In haste, people often look for an easy way out, i.e. popping up a few pills without realizing the consequences. However, opting for abortion pills without a doctor's consultation and ultrasound can be dangerous in cases like ectopic pregnancy, which can be tubal ectopic, cervical ectopic, scar pregnancy, cornual or abdominal pregnancy.

How does the abortion pill work? After how many days of conceiving do the pills work?

Abortion pills work first by blocking the progesterone receptors, not letting the uterus relax, and making the uterus more responsive to uterine contractility drugs, which are subsequently given. After that, it is safely given till seven weeks of pregnancy.

What usually is the success rate of an abortion pill?

The success rate of the drug depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Once given correctly after getting the proper investigations done, abortion cases are successful in 90-95%of cases.

Risks of an at-home abortion: Throw some light on the after-effects of abortion pills

Though at-home abortion is the easiest way to get rid of unwanted pregnancy, it comes with its after-effects. After taking medicine, women usually experience vaginal cramping and bleeding, similar to a heavy period. Even after taking pills correctly, there is a risk of severe bleeding and incomplete abortion requiring surgical clearance in 5-10% of cases.

Besides pills, there are many other ways of terminating a pregnancy. Which one do you think is the safest? What do you recommend to your patients?

Other than medical pills, abortion can also be done surgically in a safe way in a clean environment. Medical care is always preferred if all the prerequisites are fulfilled, and the patient can reach out to the hospital easily in case of any emergency.

Are these pills suitable for people with prior health history - allergies, diabetes, etc.?

If a patient has a history of allergy to abortion pills, they should be avoided. Else it can be safely given in cases of diabetes, hypertension or thyroid disorder.

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