Abortion And Gestational Age

abortion and gestational age

If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and considering an abortion, it’s essential to keep gestational age in mind. Without knowing how far you are in your pregnancy, certain abortion options can put you at risk. This is especially true if you are further along than you thought. This article discusses some important things to know about abortion and gestational age. 

Gestational Age Overview

Put simply, “gestational age” refers to how far along you are in your pregnancy. Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters, each consisting of roughly 14 weeks. Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks; however, every pregnancy is unique, some lasting longer than others. 

How Is This Age Determined?

After you receive a positive pregnancy test, you can identify approximately how far along you are by the first day of your last period. However, this can be inaccurate since everyone’s menstrual cycle is different, and you might not know exactly which day you conceived. Ultrasound is the most accurate way to determine gestational age, particularly after 6 or 7 weeks of pregnancy. This ultrasound can also determine the viability or whether the pregnancy is likely to continue. 

Types of Abortion

Abortion and gestational age are related because specific types of abortion take place in a particular time frame. Each one comes with safety risks, and these increase the further along you are in pregnancy. Medical abortions are limited to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Surgical abortions are available in Massachusetts for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, several states enacted some abortion restrictions that further limit these options.

Medical Info

Medical abortions are commonly referred to as “the abortion pill”. These consist of two medications, mifepristone, and misoprostol, taken separately 24-48 hours apart. There is a possibility of reversing the process after taking the first dose. It’s important to understand where you are in pregnancy. Since abortion pills are now available in select pharmacies in some states, many women may put themselves in harm’s way by failing to confirm gestational age before taking the pills. 

Surgical Info

After the first trimester, surgical abortion is the only option. Up to 14 weeks gestation, a catheter is used to suction the pregnancy out of the uterus. This procedure is called vacuum aspiration. After 14 weeks gestation, dilation and extraction are performed by manually removing the pregnancy with surgical tools. Sometimes women will have this type of abortion done in a hospital as the health risks can increase at a later gestational age. There are serious emotional and physical risks associated with all types of abortion. These risks increase in severity as the pregnancy progresses.

Gestational Age and Viability

One of the most critical factors related to abortion and gestational age is viability, or the baby’s reasonable chance of survival outside the uterus. One of the reasons an ultrasound is usually performed in the early weeks of pregnancy is to determine whether the baby is alive. Miscarriage, or the spontaneous death of a baby early in pregnancy, is common, and the risk is highest during the first trimester. Many women may feel that abortion is their only choice, but many pregnancies end independently or are not otherwise viable beforehand.

Clearway Clinic provides free, confidential ultrasounds to women considering abortion or wanting to confirm their pregnancy. Schedule your visit online or by calling our Springfield or Worcester, MA offices. 

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