Termination of pregnancy (TOP) is the act of ending a pregnancy intentionally. It uses surgery or medicine to prevent the live birth of a baby. It may also be called an induced or therapeutic abortion.

Most often, TOP is done because the pregnancy is unplanned or unwanted. However, sometimes there are medical or mental health reasons for doing a TOP.

Dealing with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy is very difficult. Talking with your partner, family,  friends, and healthcare provider may help you decide what to do.

But termination is a time sensitive decision because there is a cut off period where your decision does not matter.  When this time comes  you have to carry the pregnancy to full term.

So decide quickly what you want to do so that time does not decide for you.


Medical Abortion – Pills Method

The type of procedure used for a TOP depends on the stage of pregnancy and where you are as well as your financial situation.

If it has been less than 1 week to 16 weeks since your last period, then a medicine, such as the oral medicine mifepristone (Mifeprex, or RU 486), and misoprostol  may be used. The medication can be used in combination or a single dose of medicine. It all depends where you are getting the medication from and of course your budget. Mifepristone for example is very expensive but must used in combination with other pills. But misoprostol can be used on its own and the results are the same.

We shall talk over the options with you. This is an effective, most common and safe method. Most women in South Africa do this methos

Vacuum Curettage

If it has been 7 to 13 weeks since the first day of your last menstrual period, the most common procedure is dilation and vacuum curettage. It is carried out in the clinic or hospital with nurses and doctors involved.


The procedure most often used between the 13th and 21st weeks of pregnancy is called a dilation and evacuation (D&E). This procedure should be performed only by specially trained providers who are skilled in the technique.

For pregnancies after 14 to 16 weeks, medicines may be used to make the uterus contract and deliver the baby and placenta. This is similar to inducing labor.

will usually go home. Your provider will examine your cervix the next day. If it has opened enough, the D&E can be done. If not, a second set of sticks may be inserted and the D&E may be done the next day.

The D&E is done in an operating room. General anesthesia is usually used, so you are asleep during the procedure. The procedure is similar to a suction curettage. After the sticks are removed, the cervix may be gently opened more with metal rods. The pregnancy tissue will be removed with instruments and suction. The uterus will be scraped to be sure the tissue has been removed. You will then be given medicine through an IV to contract the uterus.

What you should expect:

Nausea and vomiting
Feeling warm or having chills
Most women are able to return to their normal daily activities within a day or so after the TOP if there are no complications.

Make sure you follow all of your provider’s instructions for taking care of yourself.


TOPs done properly is generally safe. Complications are extremely rare.
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