Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Abortion: When Denial is Not the Best Choice

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Putting aside any values, religious beliefs and thoughts about what is "right," it is important that teens understand their medical choices if they do become, or get someone pregnant.

I know that denial works in some situations and teens who are afraid of their parents knowing that they had sexual intercourse may try very hard to hope that the missed periods do not mean they are pregnant, but there are some very important time considerations to take into account.

If a medical or surgical abortion is an option for a woman, she needs to understand that a non-surgical, or medical abortion can be done within seven weeks from the first day of the woman's last menstrual period, or within three weeks of missing one period. A medical abortion is done with medicine (mifepristone or RU486) that end the pregnancy and a second medicine (misoprostol) causes the uterus to empty. It may take up to a few days for a woman to abort, and it is not uncommon to bleed for up to four weeks.

A surgical or aspiration abortion is usually done between six and sixteen weeks of pregnancy and uses a vacuum to remove the fetus. The longer the woman is pregnant, the more complicated the abortion and the higher the risks, so making a decision quickly is important. After 16 weeks after the last period, and D & E - dilation (of the cervix) and evacuation (of the uterus) will be done. After 24 weeks, abortions are only performed for serious health concerns. All surgical abortions will include antibiotics to prevent infection.

If you are pregnant, please go to your doctor or a local Planned Parenthood Clinic to discuss your options. The longer you wait, the fewer options you have.

Photo credit: Brittany G
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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