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Abortion comes as both a relief and a regret to many women. On one hand, mothers feel that the baby inside them, which makes them experience a wave of emotions which spiral down to depression in serious cases and on the other side, it’s a welcome relief to many. Read on to learn more about the physical complications of abortion and mental/emotional side effects.
Physical Side Effects of an Abortion
The following are the potential physical effects of abortion-
- Abdominal cramping
- Damage to organs
- Scarring of the uterus lining
- Cervical damage
- Sepsis (septicemia)
Severe Complications Following Abortion
Here is a list of long-term physical side effects of abortion-
- Heavy and persistent bleeding
- Perforation of the uterus
- Respiratory failure
- Nerve damage
Emotional and Psychological Side-Effects of Abortion
Emotional and mental effects of abortion are very common in women. They are-
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship problems
- Suicidal thoughts
- Eating disorders
- A feeling of loneliness/isolation
Which Women are More Prone to Experience Emotional Side Effects?
Women are more prone to experience the emotional effects of abortion if they fall into the following categories:
- Religious or have strong moral beliefs
- Have conflicting and ethical views about abortions
- Women with a lack of mental support from partners
- Have a history of psychological problems
What is Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome?
Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome is a term coined by anti-abortion groups and scientists have also used this term. However, well-documented research was lacking. Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome has been characterized to be similar to PTSD although the general consensus is that it is very rare to experience full-fledged mental health disorders after an abortion. Most women do experience emotional changes after an abortion, both positive and negative, but nothing extreme enough or long lasting enough to spiral them into depression or PTSD. Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome is not recognized by psychologists.
Tips for Someone Considering Abortion
If you have a friend who’s seeking an abortion, chances are, they’ll need all the help they can get. Here are some tips and things you can do for them-
1. Find Accurate Information
There are many websites that claim to be abortion-related resources. However, they promote shaming, loathing and cultural stigma around abortion. Since your friend will be emotionally sensitive during this period of time, try to find a couple of websites that talk about abortions and what they need to know. As a friend, the best thing to do is to provide psychological and emotional support especially since there’s a lot of religious and societal stigma surrounding abortions, which puts pressure on your friend. Your friend may also experience the long-term side effects of abortion which is why they need all the help they can get.
2. Be Understanding and Non-judgemental
Use non-shaming language and terms like ” are you going to terminate the pregnancy now?” or “when are you aborting the fetus?” instead of the words ‘baby.’ Listen mindfully and see what terms your friend uses when explaining the situation and help them navigate through their emotions by speaking from their perspective and shedding light on the decisions.
3. Help Them Decide
Getting an abortion isn’t a black-and-white matter. Sometimes your friend can be at a crossroads and can’t decide whether to abort or not. Ask them to take a T-chart and list out the pros and cons of getting an abortion and write them down in a non-judgemental way. Where will be 5 years from now or what do they expect from their careers and lives? Reflect on these and help them decide after listing pros and cons based on them.
4. Be Supportive
Going to an abortion clinic can be daunting since anti-abortion protestors may guilt-trip them or discourage them from seeking the clinical help they need. Having a friend to go along with to the clinic can be a huge sense of relief and support. Tag along with your friend and help them locate a good abortion clinic.Most health insurance plans don’t cover abortions which can make the procedure expensive, and some clinics are located outside counties which makes staying overnights inevitable. Search for places to stay nearby, where to buy food and necessities and if possible, stay with your friend during the time they go through this phase. They will be grateful and remember your support for the rest of their lives.
5. Exercise Empathy
A little empathy will go a long way towards healing and self-reflection. Do not make assumptions and never be judgemental to your friend. Empathy is basically feeling what they’re feeling and understanding what they’re going through. Talk to them and if they need a shoulder to cry on without hearing a word, be that person. Sometimes, people who go through abortions need someone to sit with them and help them navigate their way through the feelings they are experiencing. The best thing you can do as a friend is by being present through the time of their difficulty and hardship.
Remember that you are not weak, stupid or selfish for having an abortion. It takes strength and a special kind of resiliency to go through this. If you have a friend who is currently going through an abortion, be the friend they will remember for the rest of their lives and provide the unconditional support they need for facing the before and after effects of an abortion. After all, that’s what friends do.