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Starting (inducing) labor and delivery in the second or third trimester of a pregnancy is done using medicines. To prevent complications, the cervix may be slowly opened (dilated) with a device called a cervical (osmotic) dilator before the induction is started. Medicines to start early labor can be:
The different medicines available for an induction abortion may be combined for effectiveness and to decrease the amount of bleeding.
An induction abortion does cause you to go through the stages of labor and delivery. Pain medicines can be used during the procedure.
As your body returns to its nonpregnant condition, there are changes you can expect during the days and weeks after the procedure. Normal recovery includes:
After the procedure:
Abortions in the second or third trimester are usually done because of a medical problem or illness present in the fetus or the pregnant woman.
Induction abortion is effective in the second and third trimesters.
Dilation and evacuation (D&E) is more commonly used in second-trimester abortions. It is safer, quicker, and more effective than induction abortion.
Risks of induction abortion by injecting medicines into the amniotic sac include:
Risks of induction abortion by inserting medicines into the vagina include:
Risks of injecting medicine into a vein (IV) include:
Induction abortions must be done in a hospital so that you can be monitored during the entire procedure. Less than 1% of therapeutic abortions in the United States use an induction method. Induction abortions may be used more in other countries around the world where skilled health professionals are not available or trained to perform D&E procedures.
An induction abortion that is done because of fetal abnormalities might include time after the procedure for the parents to be with their child. With an induction abortion, genetic testing and an autopsy can also be done.
An abortion is unlikely to affect your fertility. So it is possible to become pregnant in the weeks right after the procedure. Avoid sexual intercourse until your body has fully recovered, for at least 1 week or as advised by your doctor. When you do start having intercourse again, use birth control. And use condoms to prevent infection.
Counseling for a second-trimester abortion may be more involved than for an early abortion because of the length of the pregnancy and the reason for the abortion. If you have continuing emotional reactions after an abortion, seek counseling from a grief counselor or other licensed mental health professional.
Depression can be triggered when pregnancy hormones change after an abortion. If you have more than 2 weeks of symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, sleep or appetite change, or feelings of sadness, emptiness, anxiety, or irritability, see your doctor about treatment.
Last Revised: August 31, 2012
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