Ask Dr. Joan: I had an unsuccessful herbal abortion. What are my options now?

Posted by drjoan on Mon, Jan 1, 2010 @ 10:14 PM

Questioner: a
Subject: Unsuccessful Herbal Abortion
Date Answered: 2010-01-25 AllExperts

I attempted an herbal abortion that was unsuccessful, and now I am wondering if I have limited my options.

This was my attempt:
I started taking Vitamin C (6000mg every 24 hrs)and Parsley one day before my period was due, and continued that for one week without any signs of of my period. I continued the Vitamin C and stopped the Parsley and began to take 2 560mg pills of Dong Quai every 4 hours except when I was sleeping. After a few days I felt mild cramping so I decided to add Black Cohosh drops to encourage my period, taking 300mg every 3 hours. 2 Days off that caused a tiny amount of blood and 2 full days of severe cramping and nausea.

Two days ago at 2 weeks late and with sever cramps, I went to the emergency room and they told me that my cervix was fully closed and that it appeared the fetus was in the correct place but that I also have a fibroid in my uterus. I did not tell the doctors that I had attempted an herbal abortion. They told me the cramping could just be part of the pregnancy. They diagnosed me as “First trimester pregnancy, Intramural uterine fibroid, discomfort of pregnancy.”
I am wondering now what my options are. I am only 6 weeks along and know that I can take the Pill Abortion up to 9 weeks.

I have read that once a person has attempted a herbal abortion there are risks of birth defects.

Is there a way to tell if any damage has been done to the fetus?
If I have already caused damage in some way to the fetus from the herbal abortion attempt I want to follow through with the pill abortion.

I know that I do not want to have a surgical abortion because I do not want to risk the chances of future pregnancies.

Dear A,
Thank you for your question about your options after taking herbs to terminate a pregnancy. Your question about herbal abortion is very helpful to others in this situation.  Many women end up taking either herbs or misoprostol alone to end pregnancy, without realizing that they may not be successful and that they can cause birth defects.  I believe herbal abortion is only effective 50% of the time, and misoprostol alone is effective about 80% of the time.  I know misoprostol can cause serious birth defects, but I am less educated about the risks of different herbal protocols. It’s important for women to have a back up plan if they are not successful in terminating the pregnancy with these methods.

I did some research to try to answer your question, but I am clearly not an expert in this area.  I believe there is limited information on the risks of continuing a pregnancy after taking the herbs that you did.  If you are seriously considering continuing the pregnancy, I would try to contact an herbalist who has experience with this.

My overall impression is that it is not worth taking the risks to continue the pregnancy.  If you did carry the pregnancy to term, and there were problems with the baby or the pregnancy, you would always blame yourself.  That would be a very heavy burden to bear. At this stage, it is still simple to end the pregnancy, and there is no harm done.  If you have changed your mind and want to be pregnant, you can always try again.

I would recommend the Abortion Pill or Manual Vacuum Aspiration to terminate the pregnancy.  Unfortunately, it can be hard to find a doctor who performs Manual Vacuum Aspiration – if there is a way you can come to New York City I could do your procedure.  There are other doctors listed on http:/  I would also recommend the Abortion Pill.

I have spent over a decade trying to make these simple, reliable, non-surgical methods widely available to women so that they are not in the situation you are in. Good luck with your decisions, and let me know if I can be of further help.
Doctor Joan

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