I wanted to write this so that other women (and partners) might have more of an idea what to expect.

By anonymous on 13/06/2009
Yesterday I had an early medical abortion (EMA). I was five weeks and one day. I wanted to write this so that other women (and partners) might have more of an idea what to expect. Although I am a biochemist and read all the literature diligently, I was not wholly prepared for the actual process particular in terms of timings and pain levels.

After taking the initial oral tablet, I had light period-like cramps about twelve hours after ingesting. I returned to the clinic approx 28 hours after the first tablet to insert the four vaginal pessaries. I began to have painful cramping within ten minutes. (I was still at the clinic). The 20 minute car journey home was horrific. Wave after wave of cramping, nausea and hot flushes, the pain was like a severe period (as I have endometriosis anyway, I'm used to cramping but this was definitely worse). By this point I was lightly bleeding. After a five minute respite, it really began - I have never experienced such pain. I couldn't sit, stand or lie down. I was just writhing about in the bathroom. I also had the overwhelming desire to defecate. Let me assure you having a contraction whilst on the toilet is not a pleasant experience. The contractions lasted about 10-20 seconds each with about the same amount as respite intervals. (The scientist in me tried to distract myself by timing them - needless to say it didn't work.)

This horrendous pain was accompanied by sweating, nausea and due to my screaming and trying to breathe through the pain, I had a really dry mouth and throat. The worse thing was not knowing how long it was going to last. I assume that although childbirth is much worse at least you have an specific end point, something to push and work towards. Here it is just a case of riding it out until your womb lets go of the foetal material. For me the agonising wave lasted for an hour and 20 minutes.

Once I had passed a lot of blood and clots, the pain subsided to moderate period pains. Today, just 24 hours later, I feel fine, with just the occasional cramp every 30 minutes or so. Although my partner of two years attended all of the consultations, he was not aware of to expect. For any partner, having the woman you love screaming in agony and then being able to offer no relief must also be difficult. From my experience my advice would be definitely to have someone with you at all times until you have passed the embryo, even if you don't want them in the same room.

Have the strongest pain killers you can legally get hold of. (I had Tramadol which are usually amazing so I'd hate to think how it would have been without them). Have a large blanket to hand because in between contractions, I began to shiver uncontrollably. Make sure your partner keeps a glass of water topped up and to hand. Also a hot water bottle or heat pad. I also found abut six hours later, I was hungry so have some nice treats in for later, strawberries and chocolate worked a treat!

Although I do not regret my decision to terminate the pregnancy, I would definitely have given more consideration to the surgical option. The uncertainty of time frames with this method makes the whole process quite scary. If you are reading this, good luck with whatever you decide. X

Editor’s note: Thanks for sharing your experience…You seem very preoccupied with the physical experience of the medical abortion – understandably, as it can be very painful, as yours was. As you say, the scientist in you brought logic and reason to your experience which may have helped to alleviate any fear, but I also wonder how much they also hold back any emotion you may be feeling about the meaning of the abortion. Circumstantially, it may have been the right and rational thing for you to do, but our hearts have a logic of their own that can get suppressed. Of course, none of us wants to feel pain, especially emotional pain, but it may help you to just keep an eye on your emotional reactions in the short term - and the long term - in case some support would be helpful for you in the future. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with others.

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