At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Marie Stopes launched Tele-Abortion, – an easier, more comfortable and private way to terminate pregnancy with medicine. Tele-Abortion is the first of its kind in South Africa and is-also helping women in remote locations to access safe and reliable medicine from Marie Stopes.
The process is easy: If you are under nine weeks pregnant, you are eligible and can book a telephone consultation with one of our certified providers. After your consultation is done, and you’ve signed a consent form, the provider will then prescribe you the medicine. You can choose to collect the medicine at a Marie Stopes center near you, or get it delivered to your door. We sat down with Marie Stopes’ Dr Louise Gilbert for her advice on making the process as easy as possible.
1.Prep, prep and prep again:
Dr Louise advises that, when you’re considering having a medical abortion (an abortion completed using oral medicine) it is best to plan well. “Manage your diary for that time,”, she says. It’s best not to have any big plans, or have too many errands to run. Stay home around loved ones who can support you or ensure that you’re able to go through the process privately. “It is quiet time for you,” says Dr Louise.
Drinking alcohol or consuming other intoxicating substances before or during your medical abortion is a bad idea. “Alcohol disinhibits you, so you may become forgetful and not take the medicine correctly or be unable to ask for help if you need it,” says Dr Louise. “You want to know what’s going on the whole time.”
3. Expect pain and cramping
“In your Marie Stopes pack, you will be prescribed 18 pain tablets and some of them we prescribe to be taken before you start the second stage of your medical abortion (taking Cycotec/Misoprostol).” Dr Louise says that waiting for pain to start before taking pain medicine is not a good idea, as it will make the experience more uncomfortable. She suggests that you should take the pain medicine half an hour before you take the second set of tablets (Cytotec/ Misoprostol) and then continue to take it as prescribed, even if you don’t have pain.
4. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen
“Aspirin and Ibuprofen are pain medicine that cause you to bleed more,” says Dr Louise. If you need more pain medicine than what has been prescribed, it is best to use a medicine with paracetamol in it. “You will be experiencing heavier bleeding and clotting than your period and we don’t want that to be increased,” says Dr Louise.
5. Don’t insert anything into your vagina to manage the bleeding
Don’t use tampons and menstrual cups to manage bleeding. “Use pads only, as inserting anything into your vagina can lead to infection,” says Dr Louise. She also advices against using tampons or menstrual cups for one week after your medical abortion is completed.
6. Keep movement to a minimum
While the internet is filled with advice such as calming yoga, – Dr Louise recommends minimal movement. “You can massage the lower abdomen and back, but rest as much as possible,” she says.
7. Don’t clean what isn’t dirty
Gynecologists always advise against using douches and other tools meant to “clean out” your vagina or uterus. The same would apply for a medical abortion. “Any kind of surgical procedure will only be recommended by a Marie Stopes provider should the abortion not have been successful,” says Dr Louise. , however Marie Stopes has had less than 1% failure rate, so for the majority of women, no additional procedure is required after the medical abortion procedure.
8. Get onto a short-term contraception immediately
Dr Louise recommends getting onto a short-term contraceptive like the pill or an injection immediately. “It’s best to do it sooner-as it does take time to actually start working,” she says. A contraceptive method which relies on inserting something into the uterus (such as an IUD) cannot be inserted immediately, as you have to wait to for the pregnancy to be expelled first.