Unplanned Pregnancy

Written by Tracy Stickler | Published on March 15, 2012
Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Gunter, MD, OB/GYN


In the United States, half of all pregnancies are unplanned. If looking at all of the options and deciding what to do feels overwhelming, talk with a spouse, partner, and/or people close to you and consult a doctor to discuss the available options.


Abortion is a procedure to terminate a pregnancy. In the United States this procedure is legal, but restrictions vary from state to state. Abortion costs range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on how far along you are in the pregnancy, and many medical insurance providers cover the procedure. Consult your doctor to find out if he or she performs abortions. If not, your doctor can direct you to another medical provider, or to a local clinic, such as Planned Parenthood.

Most abortions are performed during the first 13 weeks of a pregnancy. In some states, if a woman is a minor (under the age of 18) parental consent is required.

There are two abortion methods:

Vacuum Aspiration

After numbing the cervix with a local anesthetic, a dilator is used to physically open the cervix. Medications may also be used to soften and open the cervix. Then, a thin tube is 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.

After an abortion, a woman can have some cramping. A woman should not 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 as the woman’s body is emptying the uterus. The clinic will give specific instructions about the amount of bleeding and how long it may last.

Abortion Pill (RU-486)

A medicinal abortion can be done up to 63 days after conception. The abortion pill, mifepristone (also known as “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 is used in conjunction with mifespristone. Misoprostol is taken within three days after taking mifespristone. Misoprostol helps in emptying the uterus. Along with the intake of the abortion pill, antibiotics are given to reduce the risk of infection.

With 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.


With adoption you will have to go through the full pregnancy and delivery of your child. Many emotions come into play throughout this process, and you have some time to decide if you will keep the child. Contact local adoption agencies; they can guide you in starting this process.

You can set guidelines to work for you. You can decide what kinds of parents are right to raise your child. They can be involved with the pregnancy along with you or not. The positive side to having the adoptive parents involved from early on is that you will get to know them and therefore be able to determine if they will provide an upbringing that you support.


If the previous options do not seem right for you, deciding to have a child and parent him or her is the next option. As a prospective parent, you must accept the responsibility of child-rearing. Deciding if you and/or your spouse or partner can financially and emotionally handle this life change is important.

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