Factual Frequently Asked Questions
1. “How can I find a quality provider?”
Not all abortion providers are alike, just as in any field. The first thing you might want to do is to get a referral from someone you trust, such as your doctor or family planning clinic. Next, be certain that the provider is a member of one of the national organizations, such as the Abortion Care Network or the National Abortion Federation. A high internet listing is not a guarantee of quality service. You can do a web check on the facility. Call the clinic. Are their fees suspiciously lower than the others? How does the staff respond to your questions? Are they knowledgeable, friendly, willing to take their time with you? Do they offer counseling afterwards if you or your partner want to come in to talk? Are partners included in the process?
2. “Can I be with my partner during the procedure?”
Being with your partner during counseling, the procedure, or recovery is an option that some clinics offer. If this is important to you, be sure to call and ask before making your appointment. Keep in mind, though, that your partner has the final word on whether you can be present. Clinics have their own policies based on their own experience, but there are ways to be involved and supportive.
3. “Are they in a lot of pain during the abortion procedure?”
Most people do have cramps during the procedure, and sometimes the cramping can get bad, but most abortions take only five minutes and the cramps do begin to go away shortly afterwards. Many clinics offer a variety of pain control, from a local anesthetic that would numb the cervix alone, to IV sedation in which the patient is in a twilight sleep, to full general anesthesia. Each method of pain control has advantages and disadvantages. Ask the provider which methods of pain control they offer. Confidence in the decision and your support are also factors in sensation of pain. Read more here.
4. “How do we know which is better--an abortion procedure in a clinic or the abortion pill at home?”
First of all, the abortion pill is generally offered only in early pregnancies up to 9 or 10 weeks. This guide may help you both to decide which method is best in your situation. Often, the pill is chosen by those who want to experience the passing of the pregnancy in privacy, and feel that they have the self confidence to handle the process alone or with a partner. Those who prefer to have the support of clinic staff and/or want the procedure over in five minutes rather than much longer, can choose to have the abortion at a clinic. At the time the appointment is being made, you can ask if both methods are available.
5. “Afterwards, how will I know if there’s a problem?”
Remember that, in United States, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, as is the abortion pill (source). A quality provider will send each patient home with a list of instructions as well as how to get in touch with them should you have any questions or concerns. Choosing a clinic with 24/7 answering service will do a lot to ease your mind. You can expect that they will actually feel quite well physically, but they may have cramps that are relieved by over-the-counter pain medications, especially Ibuprofen.
6. “How do we know what method of birth control is best?”
The provider will review all methods of birth control if you wish, or just the ones you want to know more about. Currently the most effective and long lasting method of birth control is an IUD (a device that is inserted by a clinician into the uterus) and the names are Mirena, Liletta or Paragard. Another method you might want to consider is Nexplanon, which is also highly effective. It is a hormone similar to that in Depo Provera and is inserted under the skin on your arm by a medical professional. Of course the pill, patch or vaginal ring, and the Depo Provera 3 month shot are also valid choices and some clinics may provide a prescription during the appointment. Condoms are an important protection from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Be sure to ask if birth control counseling is available on procedure day at no additional charge. You can visit Bedsider.org for more information on the different birth control methods.
7. “When can we resume having sex?”
Most clinics tell patients to refrain from sex for one to two weeks. Also, using condoms may be necessary until the chosen method of birth control is fully functioning, which could mean two weeks or more.
8. “How can I be of most help afterwards?”
The first thing you can do is to read the instruction sheet carefully. Also, you can help by being sure there are Ibuprofen or other pain medications, sanitary pads, and a heating pad or similar comforting heat in case of cramping. Make time to listen to how your partner feels emotionally. They will feel reassured to know that you care. And take care of your own feelings. Read more here.