I'm 17, from an Asian family, and about to start studying as an international student in the UK - I found I was pregnant 2 weeks before flying
To begin with, I should give some background information.
After finding out that I was pregnant, I went online to search for the experiences of other girls, so I hope that by sharing my experience, someone else may relate to it and find some reassurance.
I'm seventeen and starting university (international student) in the UK. Secondly, I’m Asian and coming from an Asian family, sex before marriage is a big no-no, ESPECIALLY getting pregnant before marriage. So you could imagine my horror when I decided to take a pregnancy test.
I cannot emphasize how important it is to have someone who is supportive of your decision to have an abortion
My boyfriend and I are still together and we’re still going strong (long distance r/s) and he was extremely supportive and encouraging throughout my entire experience. I cannot emphasize how important it is to have someone who is supportive of your decision to have an abortion and someone to talk to about your stress and pain. I didn’t have anyone else to talk to other than my boyfriend, so I’m grateful that he was such a huge source of motivation. If you are going through this alone, I hope you talk to a friend whom you trust, but keep the people who know to a minimum.
We decided to not use protection - bad idea
My boyfriend and I have always used protection when having sex. We’re both educated about the dangers of not using protection and he is fine with using it. It was about a week after my period ended that we decided to have sex without protection. Bad idea.
I found out that I was pregnant two weeks before flying. I estimated that I was about 6-7 weeks pregnant. The first things that went through my mind were that I had to get an abortion once I was in the UK. My circumstances made it difficult for me to have one back home.
The three main methods of abortion
I did a lot of reading about the three main methods of abortion - the abortion pill, vacuum aspiration and lastly dilation and evacuation.
At first, I thought, "Oh the abortion pill sounds convenient. They're just pills and it’s over!". However, there have been some experiences of women who take abortion pills and undergo the pains of labour (they literally go through labour in their toilet).
I’m not saying that you will experience the same thing but it could happen (or it might just be severe cramps). Furthermore, the abortion pill requires you to return to the clinic a few times as the process works in a few stages. It just sounded very inconvenient and unpredictable to me. Hence, I opted for the method of vacuum aspiration and I’m glad that I decided to choose it.
International students need to register with a GP
If you’re an international student, here’s what you need to do.
You might have already done so or your school may already have done it for you, but first things first, you need to register with a general practitioner (GP) under the NHS.
What this does is, it allocates you an NHS number. Make sure that you ask the GP for your NHS number (go to the clinic to ask and bring your passport & BRP card with you).
Your NHS number is important
Next, you can choose to make an appointment with your GP and have your doctor refer you to an abortion service OR what I did was - I made an appointment with Marie Stopes.
Your NHS number is important as it entitles you to free healthcare, hence, if you’re a struggling student with a tight allowance, such as me, you don’t need to be financially burdened by your abortion. I understand how stressful an abortion can be, and money can be an issue, hence I’m putting this out there for those who are in the same situation.
I went to the Marie Stopes abortion website and I strongly suggest that you do so, as their website is very informative and helpful with how you can go about making an appointment and having an abortion. Their hotline is open 24/7, unlike some clinics, which only open for a few days in a week (you might be in school).
You’ll have an initial conversation - feel free to ask questions
I called Marie Stopes and the receptionist took down my personal details and set me up for an initial phone call appointment. A phone call appointment means that you’ll have an initial conversation with a nurse over the phone where she’ll ask about your medical history and discuss the different options you can choose from.
Feel free to ask questions. I already knew which method I was going with, so I asked about having sedation (you’ll fall asleep in 5 seconds and wake up not remembering the surgical procedure), which the nurse recommended for abortions between 6-9 weeks. The phone call was over in twenty minutes and the nurse helped me schedule my operation date (the next day).
You'll need to fast before a surgical abortion
If you are opting for a surgical abortion, they will require you to fast before your operation. I thought about it and decided to have my abortion in the late afternoon so that I would still be able to eat breakfast and have the energy to attend my lectures.
You should also plan the operation around your meals (especially if you get hungry a lot). Before my op, I ate a lot of protein (beef and chicken) so that my iron levels would be sufficient and I slept for a sufficient amount of time. I also made sure that I got up early enough to eat breakfast before I started my fast (I can’t remember if it was 6 or 9 hours long).
At the clinic, the nurse gave me an ultrasound scan and it turned out I was 6 weeks pregnant. She took a simple blood test (just a quick prick on your finger, don’t worry) to check my iron level. Afterwards, I was able to carry on with the abortion.
The needle hurt but I don’t regret it at all
As I opted to be sedated, the anaesthetist inserted a needle into my arm, obviously, so the sedation fluid can be injected into my bloodstream. I must tell you that I am EXTREMELY afraid of needles! Honestly speaking, it hurt, but I don’t regret the choice I made at all!
After what seemed like a short nap, I woke up and I was given some biscuits and a warm drink, and I rested for a while before taking a cab back to my dorm.
My experience at Marie Stopes was very comforting
My experience at Marie Stopes was honestly very comforting. After this experience, I am now able to fully channel my focus and energy to studying and schoolwork.
I want to let you know that having an abortion is YOUR choice and it isn’t someone else’s decision to make. Do what’s best and choose what is safest for you! You should read up on the different abortion methods and carefully think about which one suits you best.
I know you’re probably very stressed and maybe feeling depressed and lost. I felt like that too, but I had a boyfriend who was very encouraging and he did everything he could to help me through it (despite being 6800 miles away) and I made a plan of action and took the necessary steps to follow it through (Register with GP > NHS Number > Marie Stopes).
I made it through. So can you
I had to carry my plan out all by myself in a foreign country (at least English is my first language) and I cannot tell you how afraid I was, but I made it through. So can you.