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how soon can i get an abortion

You have just discovered you’re unexpectedly pregnant and heard that it’s better to get an abortion sooner rather than later.

While it’s true that post-abortion risks increase as you get further along in your pregnancy, does that mean it’s best to get an abortion as soon as you discover you’re unexpectedly pregnant?

How Early Can I Get an Abortion?

Some abortion clinics will allow you to get an abortion as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test. Since pregnancy tests are so sensitive, you can discover you’re pregnant as early as four weeks. It’s critical to accurately know how far along you are before considering an abortion.

Why It’s Important To Know How Far Along You Are

Before you get an abortion, you must know how far along you are in your pregnancy, also referred to as the gestational age. So why is it so important to accurately verify your pregnancy’s gestational age? Because gestational age is a major factor in determining what type of abortion procedure is an option for you. Also, certain types of abortion procedures increase risks for certain gestational ages.

How Gestational Age Is Calculated

There are three ways to determine gestational age: menstrual cycle dates, clinical examination, and ultrasound.

Menstrual cycle dates: The most important thing to know is that it’s highly inaccurate to determine gestational age by menstrual cycle dates. We will discuss why that is in a moment.

Determining how far along you are in your pregnancy by dates can be a little confusing because it’s calculated differently than you might think. For example, if the first day of your period is day one and you ovulate and conceive on day fourteen, you might expect that you would be considered two weeks pregnant when you miss your period on day twenty-nine. But, instead, although the fetal age would be two weeks, you would be considered four weeks pregnant because gestational age is determined from the first day of your last period.

Why is it so inaccurate to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy by the first day of your last period? There are several reasons:

  • Although women typically ovulate around day fourteen in their cycle, you may have ovulated early or late in your cycle, which would change the date of conception.
  • Sometimes women experience implantation bleeding when they first become pregnant. If the implantation bleeding is mistakenly counted as a period, your pregnancy dates could be off by as much as a month — or more.

Clinical examination: Clinical examination includes a pelvic exam to check your cervix and assess the size of your uterus. Like determining gestational age by menstrual cycle dates, it is very inaccurate. 

Ultrasound: The only way to accurately know how far along you are in your pregnancy is by ultrasound because your healthcare provider can see and measure the pregnancy.

Is an Early Abortion Best for You?

We have discussed why it is important to have accurate information about how far along you are in your pregnancy. Now let’s discuss other factors to consider before moving forward with an early abortion. 

  1. You won’t be able to confirm a viable pregnancy.

A non-viable pregnancy has no chance of survival. And it’s common. According to a 2013 study, the likelihood of miscarriage after week five is 21.3%.

For that reason, it is valuable to know that you have a viable pregnancy before moving forward with an abortion.

Making any decision about an unexpected pregnancy is tough, and many women are unprepared for their complicated emotional response to a carefully-made abortion decision. However, if your pregnancy is not viable, you won’t need an abortion, which could prevent complex emotional and spiritual difficulties for you down the road.

Don’t put yourself through an abortion you don’t need if a miscarriage is certain.

  • You won’t be able to confirm the location of the pregnancy.

Most likely an ultrasound for a very early pregnancy (four weeks) will not confirm the location of the pregnancy. In that case, a clinic may provide you with the abortion pill when you have a pregnancy that is not located in the uterus. This is another form of a non-viable pregnancy, except it’s a medical emergency that needs treatment — not an abortion.

If you take the abortion pill while you have a pregnancy that’s in your fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy), it can be life-threatening.

  • You will be forced to make a rushed decision.

When you discover you’re unexpectedly pregnant, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and scared. But it’s best to make such a life-impacting decision after you have had a chance to catch your breath and feel calmer.

When you discover you’re unexpectedly pregnant so early, you have an opportunity to slow down, take a deep breath, and empower yourself with the facts you need to make the best decision for yourself and your future.

So don’t feel pressured or forced to make a rushed decision. It can prevent future regrets and asking yourself, “What if?” Instead, gather the critical information you need now to make an informed decision about your pregnancy that you can feel confident about.

Unbiased Support Is Available

You matter, and your physical, mental, and emotional health matters too. So take care of yourself by seeking unbiased and highly-skilled support.  It’s available at Willowbrook Women’s Center.

Don’t rush into an early abortion you may not need, there are many things to consider before ending a pregnancy. Allow us to help you gather accurate facts that will help you make the right decision for you. At Willowbrook, we offer all of our services to you at no charge, including a limited ultrasound to determine how far along you are and if your pregnancy is viable.

You will never be judged for your choices and will sense compassion from the moment you walk in our doors. So, make your confidential appointment today and receive the support you deserve.

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