Unplanned Pregnancy

Written by Tracy Stickler | Published on January 12, 2015
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP on January 12, 2015


Almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you become pregnant unexpectedly, looking at all of the options and deciding on what to do can be very overwhelming. Make sure to talk with a spouse, partner, or people close to you and consult with a doctor to help guide your decision.


Deciding to parent your child is a big decision. As a prospective parent, you must accept the responsibility of raising a child. Deciding if you and your spouse or partner can financially and emotionally handle this life-changing decision is important. There are many resources available regarding childcare, child support, and education for new parents. Using the available resources will help you with your decision.


Many emotions can come into play throughout the adoption process. If you are thinking about adoption, contact local adoption agencies and they can guide you in starting this process. It is important to remember that you can set guidelines that work for you throughout this process. You can decide what kinds of parents are right to raise your child. The adoptive parents can be involved with the pregnancy or not based on what you’re comfortable with. The positive side to having the adoptive parents involved from early on is that you will get to know them and, therefore, you will be able to determine if they will provide an upbringing that you support.


Abortion is a procedure to terminate a pregnancy. In the United States this procedure is legal, but restrictions vary from state to state. Most abortions are performed during the first 13 weeks of a pregnancy. In some states, parental consent is required for people under the age of 18. Abortion costs range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on how far along you are in the pregnancy. Many medical insurance providers cover the procedure. Consult your doctor to find out if they perform abortions. If not, they can direct you to another medical provider, or to a local clinic like Planned Parenthood.

Abortion Methods

Vacuum Aspiration

A dilator is used to physically open the cervix after numbing it with a local anesthetic. Medications may also be used to soften and open the cervix. A thin tube is then eased into the uterus through the cervix. The tube is attached to an electric or manual pump, which applies suction to the uterus, creating a vacuum that removes the contents of the uterus, thus terminating the pregnancy. Abortions normally take no longer than 10 to 15 minutes, and are safe. A woman can go home the same day the procedure is done.

A woman can have some cramping after an abortion. She shouldn’t have sex or insert a tampon for up to two weeks to let the uterus heal properly without infection. Heavy menstrual-like bleeding and blood clots are common. The clinic will give specific instructions about the amount of bleeding and how long it may last.

Abortion Pill (RU-486)

A drug-induced abortion can be done up to 63 days after conception. The abortion pill, mifepristone (also known as Mifeprex or RU-486), works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without this hormone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and a pregnancy cannot continue. A second pill called misoprostol (Cytotec) is used in conjunction with mifespristone. Misoprostol is taken within three days after taking mifespristone. Misoprostol helps in emptying the uterus. In addition to the medications, antibiotics are given to reduce the risk of infection.

With a drug-induced abortion, bleeding is common for up to four weeks. A doctor visit is required, and an ultrasound is usually performed to ensure the abortion is complete and that all contents in the uterus have been removed.

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