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Abortion: Frequently asked questions

You might have lots of questions which we are happy to answer when you call or visit the clinic. We answer some of the things people ask and give links for more information below:

What happens at the clinic?

I have questions about contraception

What happens after the abortion?

General FAQ's

Are abortions funded by the NHS?

Most women living in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) can have their treatment paid for by the NHS or another government department (97% of BPAS clients in 2018). Check if this applies to you when you call 03457 30 40 30 to book.

If you are a European national currently in the UK but do not have access to NHS funding and are more than 10 weeks pregnant, please contact the Abortion Support Network for advice on funding: www.asn.org.uk/

If you need to fund your own treatment click here for prices

How confidential is the service?

Very – we understand the need for confidentiality and have a legal duty to protect your privacy. We keep information about you safe and secure. It’s usual for healthcare providers to inform GPs that we have treated their patients - we will ask you if it is OK to contact your GP. Click here for more information about your health records.

Why do I have to give my personal details?

We collect the minimum information needed to treat you safely, legally and check if your treatment can be funded by the NHS. We protect all the information you give us and use it to deliver and improve care.

Will abortion affect my ability to get pregnant in the future?

VIDEO: Will abortion affect my ability to get pregnancy in the future?

If your treatment is uncomplicated it won’t cause any issues with future pregnancies. There is no proven connection between abortion and future infertility, ectopic pregnancy or other pregnancy complications. Abortion can be associated with future pregnancies ending before the due date; this risk increases with each abortion but the medical evidence is not enough to show a connection. We use evidence based information to provide you with all the information necessary to make the decision that is right for you. A healthcare professional will explain all the known risks and complications associated with your treatment choice.

Does having an abortion increase my chance of getting breast cancer?

VIDEO: Does abortion increase my risk of breast cancer?

No - there is no proven link between breast cancer and abortion.

Is abortion legal?

Abortion is legal in England, Scotland and Wales providing it meets the terms of the 1967 Abortion Act. The law allows doctors to end a pregnancy if they believe that: 

  • continuing the pregnancy would be harmful to the physical or mental health of the woman or her existing children
  •  
  • an abortion would be less risky than continuing the pregnancy, or
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  • there is substantial risk that if the child was born it would suffer mental abnormality or serious physical handicap.

Two doctors must certify that the legal grounds for abortion are met, but do not have to meet the woman personally.

Abortion care must be carried out in premises which are licensed with the Department of Health and which are regulated.  BPAS provides abortion treatment up to 24 weeks.

When there is a substantial risk to the woman’s life, or a fetal (foetal) abnormality, there is no legal time limit for abortion. Abortions after 24 weeks must take place at NHS hospitals. The charity ARC Antenatal Results and Choices provides information and support about fetal abnormality.

See www.bpas.ie for more information if you live in Ireland

GPs and Blood tests Results

If you have been referred to your GPs for blood tests, you will be contacted once the results are back from the GP surgery. BPAS cannot chase GPs for blood results but as soon as the results are back you will be assessed for suitability of treatment and be contacted.

Bookings

I would like to cancel my appointment

To avoid waiting in our call queue, please email us from the email address you provided us at the time of your booking to info@bpas.org with your reference number and password. There is no need to call us as we will cancel your appointment for you.

What if I change my mind, or wish to rearrange my appointment?

You can change your mind at any time - we want you to be totally sure. Call 03457304030 to rearrange your appointment so your appointment isn’t wasted. You can also call if you want to book some or more pregnancy options counselling.

I have forgotten the details of my appointment

You will have been sent an email on the day you called which will have all the details on, time and date of your consultation. Please also check your spam folder.

I have submitted an online form and not heard anything

You will receive your appointment via email or contacted by an appointment advisor within 24 hours of submitting your online request. Please note the call will come from a private number. If you need to contact us regarding your appointment request submission, we advise you do not call back before the 24 hours.

I would like an earlier appointment

The appointment we have given you is the earliest available. We would advise you to try and keep this appointment to ensure there are no delays in your treatment.

When will I have my treatment after my telephone consultation?

Options and timescales for treatment will be discussed with the nurse during your consultation and you will be told on that call what the next steps will be.

When will I get a telephone consultation call?

The email you are sent once we finish booking your appointment will give you all the information you need to know. Please be available one hour before and one hour after your appointment time to ensure you do not miss your call.

Treatment

How long you are in the clinic depends on which treatment you choose. Look at the different treatment options here.

What are the risks?

Abortion treatment is very safe, especially in the early weeks of pregnancy. No clinical procedure is without risk and these are fully explained to you before treatment.

Which treatment is best?

The best treatment for you depends how many weeks pregnant you are, the results of your medical assessment and your preference. The abortion treatment type we offer you will be based on clinical opinion and best practice guidelines. We’ll discuss this with you fully before treatment.

Is treatment painful/does it hurt?

This depends on the type of abortion you choose, and your own pain tolerance limit. We will make you as comfortable as possible. 

  • Vacuum aspiration (local anaesthetic) up to 12 or 14 weeks - you will feel cramping similar to period pain. You are given pain relief tablets and a numbing injection to the neck of your womb (cervix). 
  • Vacuum aspiration with conscious sedation up to 14 weeks – you are relaxed and sleepy and will feel little or no pain.  You will be given a numbing injection to the neck of your womb and sedative medication is given through a cannula (thin plastic tube) placed into a vein in your hand
  • Dilatation and evacuation from 15 to under 24 weeks - over 18 weeks this is done under general anaesthetic so you will  be unconscious and  feel no pain during the procedure. Anaesthetic or sedative medication is given through a cannula (thin plastic tube) placed into a vein in your hand.  From 15 to 18 weeks treatment is usually done with conscious sedation so you will be relaxed and sleepy and will feel little or no pain.
  • Early medical abortion up to 10 weeks (70 days) - you will have strong cramping similar to period pains.  We can give you strong codeine and you can also take ibuprofen. 
  • Medical abortion over 10 weeks (70+ days) - gas and air and painkillers are given as needed for the contractions experienced during labour and delivery. Over 22 weeks gestation you will need feticide which involves mild discomfort during the injection to your tummy.

Does the fetus feel anything?

Current research shows that the senses of the fetus are not developed enough to feel pain before 28 weeks gestation.

Why do I need to go for a scan? 

The scan is required to know the exact gestation so that the appropriate treatment can be arranged. We understand some clients are a little anxious when they are booked in for a scan, the scan consultation is very discrete.

Do I have to see the scan?

We make sure you won’t see any images unless you want to.

Can my partner stay with me?

To protect clients and staff and to comply with infection control measures we are restricting the number of client companions/escorts allowed into our clinics. Click here for more information.

Will I be given Pills by Post?

Pills by Post is for clients who have a gestation of 9 weeks and 6 days or under however the decision will be made after your consultation after a medical practitioner has assessed you fully.

Afterwards

How will I feel after the abortion?

VIDEO: How will I feel after an abortion?

Recovery after an uncomplicated abortion usually happens fairly quickly – click here for more information on your recovery. Most women feel relieved after treatment, but some may feel sad or guilty. Call 03457 304030 to make an appointment for post abortion counselling if you feel the need to talk. This is a free service for women who’ve had BPAS treatment.

How much bleeding is there?

Most women bleed for 1-2 weeks - use sanitary towels during this time. The bleeding is like a normal period (there may be some blood clots). There may be spotting until your next period. After surgical abortion, a few women will not experience bleeding until their next period.

If your bleeding soaks 2 or more sanitary towels per hour for 2 hours in a row, contact the clinic or Aftercare line on 03003336828 urgently for advice. If you can’t call, go to A&E.

Can I use tampons?

Use sanitary towels for 1 to 2 weeks after treatment.  Tampons can be used for your next menstrual period.

Will I need time off work?

Most women return to their normal routine in a day or 2. Rest until you can resume your usual activities.

How soon can I have sex?

You can have sex as soon as you feel sufficiently recovered from the abortion. You can get pregnant almost immediately after treatment, so it is important to use contraception if you do not want to get pregnant.

What about travel after the treatment?

It’s best not to travel within 24 hours of treatment. If you must travel, make sure you know how to get emergency medical care if needed. If you choose to travel after taking the 2nd medication (misoprostol) of the abortion pill up to 10 weeks - you may have cramps and bleed heavily during travel.