Early Termination of Pregnancy
Early termination of pregnancy is ending a pregnancy under 10 weeks, counted from the first day of your last menstrual period. Early abortion is ending an early pregnancy, before it has a chance to develop. Another way to think about it is whether you have missed only one or two periods since you got pregnant.
When early termination of pregnancy is completed less than 9 weeks of pregnancy, an embryo cannot be seen with the naked eye. There is much misinformation on the internet about the stages of pregnancy. The following is an accurate medical description of the early stages of pregnancy.
Every month the uterus develops a lining called the endometrial lining or menstrual lining. This lining sheds naturally with the monthly period.
If conception occurs, the lining does not shed. After the missed period, the lining is now called “decidua” and it becomes thicker to get ready for the pregnancy.
At five weeks of pregnancy (one week after the missed period) a gestational sac forms. The gestational sac is a thin membrane filled with fluid; this sac would later develop into the amniotic sac. Initially, the gestational sac is the size of a pea.
At seven weeks of pregnancy (three weeks after the missed period) the gestational sac is the size of a small grape. Cells start to cluster inside the sac, and can be identified on ultrasound but they are too small to be seen with the naked eye.
At nine weeks of pregnancy (five weeks after the missed period) the gestational sac is the size of a half dollar. An early visible embryo begins to form around 10 weeks of pregnancy.
At these stages, early termination of pregnancy is safe and simple. The pregnancy itself has not developed. Ending an early pregnancy is similar to releasing a late menstrual period.
Early Termination of Pregnancy: The safest methods
The SofTouch™ Aspiration Procedure and the Abortion Pill are non-invasive ways to induce or “bring down” your period. In the SofTouch™ Aspiration Procedure, the doctor inserts a thin cannula (a plastic tube the size of a straw) through the natural opening of the cervix and applies a gentle pressure. This causes the natural separation of the menstrual lining of the uterus. The tissue is gently removed into a handheld device. The Abortion Pill induces the period by medications which block pregnancy hormones and result in the natural separation of the menstrual lining from the uterus. The second medication causes the uterus to contract and expel the menstrual tissue.
Common Questions about Early Termination of Pregnancy
How do I know how far along in the pregnancy I am?
Doctors usually date the pregnancy by the first day of your last menstrual period. So, if the first day of your last menstrual period was January 1; and today is February 11 (42 days later); you would be considered six weeks pregnant.
Period dates can be unreliable. The most reliable method for dating a pregnancy is ultrasound. A pregnancy can be detected on ultrasound at about five weeks of pregnancy, or five weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period.
How soon does a pregnancy test turn positive?
Urine pregnancy tests turn positive around 10-14 days after conception. Urine tests are now almost as accurate as blood tests. The most reliable pregnancy tests have two lines on them. Digital pregnancy tests, or ones that have words on them like “pregnant” are not as reliable.
I am bleeding? Does that mean I am having a miscarriage?
Bleeding is very common in early pregnancy. It can be spotting, or bleeding like a period, or sometimes even heavier. While heavier bleeding can be an indication of an early miscarriage, it can also be completely normal in early pregnancy. The only way to be sure is to see a doctor and have an evaluation. The doctor will evaluate by getting blood tests to follow pregnancy hormones and/or by checking an ultrasound. See more information on bleeding after abortion or termination of pregnancy.
I am having some cramping. Does this mean there is something wrong?
Period-like cramping can be common in early pregnancy and rarely means there is something wrong. If the pregnancy is over seven weeks from your last period and you are getting lower abdominal pain, you should be evaluated by a medical professional. Severe cramping or pain should always be evaluated. See more information on cramping after abortion or termination of pregnancy.
If there is no embryo, why do they say there is a heartbeat?
At seven weeks of pregnancy, the cells that will become the embryo start to cluster inside the gestational sac. These cells can be seen on ultrasound, but would not be visible to the naked eye. At this time, the cells that are determined to later form the heart start to “beat.” An ultrasound technician will often interpret the beating cells as a “heartbeat” weeks before there is organ development.
I had sex with two different men last month. Is there any way to know who conceived the pregnancy?
If you had sex with two different men at least one to two weeks apart, the ultrasound can be helpful in determining when conception occurred. The doctor doing the ultrasound can tell you of their certainty. If it was less than one week apart, there is no reliable way to tell.
Why do I have to wait to end my pregnancy?
Early termination of pregnancy is easiest once a gestational sac can be identified inside the uterus on ultrasound. This is usually about five weeks from the first day of the last period, three weeks after conception, or one week after the missed period. The doctor can now confirm that the pregnancy is developing normally inside the uterus (it is not an ectopic or tubal pregnancy). If a pregnancy can be identified on ultrasound, the doctor can be sure that the termination of pregnancy was successful.
Is it safe to have sex after I am pregnant?
Yes. Once you have conceived, having sex will not cause a problem with the pregnancy or make it more difficult to have an abortion. You can have sex right up to the time of the abortion and you don’t have to be concerned about conceiving a second pregnancy.