Natural Miscarriage (Spontaneous Abortion) Definitive Guide: 30 Common Home Remedies for Abortion Yourself | Safe or High-Risk?

Not all pregnancies are planned and most of these pregnancies are terminated. A 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) report has found that 85 million pregnancies worldwide were unplanned. Fifty percent of these conceptions resulted in abortion, while 13% were miscarriages. (1)

No matter what our opinions on abortion are, there are many reasons why women and couples decide to terminate a pregnancy. In countries where abortion is legal and government-funded, most women visit clinics to undergo medically supervised abortions, yet there are still women who choose to have their own “do-it-yourself” abortions.

One method of choice is natural abortion, which involves the use of plants, herbs, and other natural methods rather than medication or surgery. Namely, some women use abortifacients or herbs that help induce an abortion. However, there are serious risks involved. Many of these herbal products are not regulated by the government and have not been thoroughly studied.

On the other hand, a simple procedure like a massage when used to perform an abortion could result in serious side effects. In order to perform an abortion, women usually need to do these procedures excessively or take large doses, which may cause long-term damage to a person.

It’s estimated that 22 million women have unsafe abortions every year with 47,000 deaths resulting from complications of unsafe abortion. (2) Our aim is to present necessary facts on different herbs and natural abortion procedures that women use today. We will also discuss the reasons for, legal considerations, and risks of abortion. Our hope is that women will get the right information to help them make an informed decision about natural abortion.

Papaya

Papaya, whose scientific name is Carica papaya, is a fruit-bearing tree believed to originate from Central America but is now found in many tropical countries in the world. Considered a superfood, papaya is known to prevent many diseases. People use its juice for treatment of burns, warts, and boils, and research has linked the papaya fruit to reducing the risk of diabetes, heart problems, and cancer.

While ripe papaya is safe, green or unripe papaya is considered dangerous to a pregnancy. It contains papain, a type of enzyme that inhibits the hormone progesterone, without which a fetus cannot grow in the womb. Green papaya also releases latex, which can trigger contractions in the uterus. (3) No safe dose has been determined for using papaya for abortion, so it poses great risks for mother and baby.

Pineapple

Pineapples are tropical fruits rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Eating a serving (one cup) of pineapple in a week is generally considered safe, but eating more than this is dangerous. The reason for this is the bromelain in pineapples. This enzyme breaks down proteins and causes bleeding. It also softens the cervix, which leads to a miscarriage.

If you are considering adding pineapple to your diet, make sure to talk to your doctor first. Because of the difficulty of doing human studies on the use of bromelain for abortion, not much is known about the extent of the damage that bromelain can cause to the reproductive system.

Pomegranate

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing broad-leafed shrub. It has been widely used as a supplement since ancient times for many health issues like a sore throat, heart disease, and intestinal problems. It’s also a food of which pregnant women have to be wary.

While eating the fruit or drinking the juice is considered safe, there’s a naturally occurring steroid found in pomegranate seed that has the ability to stimulate uterine contractions and cause an abortion. Inversely, there are studies that suggest pomegranate’s flower has a spasmolytic effect or an ability to relieve spasms and relax the uterus. Its root, stem, and peel also contain alkaloids that relax the muscles, a property that has been linked to animal paralysis and death. (4)

In conclusion, pregnant women can consume pomegranate fruit and juice but not any of its other parts.

Eggplant

Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a perennial plant and member of the nightshade family, which includes potato and tomato. It’s also known as aubergine in British English and brinjal in India and other parts of Asia and Africa. It’s a highly nutritious food that has antioxidants which fight chronic diseases and even cancer.

Some people think eggplants can cause abortion because it is used to treat menstruation problems. However, there is not enough evidence to prove this. Experts actually recommend eggplant as part of a woman’s pregnancy diet because of its many health benefits. Some people do experience allergic reactions when eating eggplants so make sure to stop eating them if you notice any itchiness or rash.

Acacia Pods and Banana Leaves

Acacia pods and banana leaves are believed to be effective in inducing abortion. There have been some anecdotal accounts linking acacia pods to miscarriages. However, no formal research has been done on its effect on the female reproductive system. What we do have is a string of studies that shows the capacity of a certain type of acacia (Acacia nilotica) to kill sperms. (5)

As for pregnant and breastfeeding women, not enough is known about the effects of acacia, so it is best to avoid using. Bananas, on the other hand, are recommended for pregnant women as it has many nutritional benefits to the baby. Its leaves are used to treat burns and skin problems, but they have not been scientifically linked to abortion.

Acacia pods and banana leaves are not proven abortifacients, but pregnant women should avoid ingesting them because we do not fully understand their effects on pregnancy.

Cohosh

Black and blue cohosh are two herbs that are known to cause an abortion. Usually used together, black and blue cohosh stimulate oxytocin which then causes contractions that eliminate the baby from the uterus. There is no known safe dosage for taking cohosh, and consuming too much can be lethal.

The American Herbal Products Association advises against the use of black cohosh among pregnant women as it’s known to cause severe liver damage. The more dangerous twin, blue cohosh, also known as blueberry root, can lead to birth defects in newborns. There are documented cases of women who experienced a perinatal stroke, multi-organ injury, and heart problems upon ingesting blue cohosh late in pregnancy or before delivery. (6)

Black and blue cohosh are highly toxic herbs that should be avoided in pregnancy.

Mugwort Leaves

Mugwort is a perennial plant whose bitter leaves are edible and aromatic. It is rich in chemicals like absinthin and tannin, which cause uterine contractions. They are used by women for regulating menstruation.

Unfortunately, mugwort has several adverse effects, namely breathing problems and skin allergic reactions like contact dermatitis, atopic eczema, and anaphylaxis. Taking large doses may result in nervous system problems. (7)

Due to the dearth of scientific research on this plant, mugwort should not be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women. There is no known safe dose for taking mugwort even for women who intend to have an abortion, and overdosing is a likely result that can lead to long-term damage.

Cotton Root Bark

Cotton plant (Gossypium herbaceum) is an evergreen shrub that is grown in many parts of the world from the southern United States to Asia. Cultivated mainly for cotton production, cotton parts, namely its seeds and root bark, are known as herbal medicines.

Cotton root bark has long been used as an abortifacient and labor stimulator. Notably, slaves in cotton plantations used to take it to prevent unwanted pregnancies. (8) Still, there are no studies yet on these rumored uses. As such, we cannot determine its safety or even its effectiveness.

In India, members of certain tribes use a mix of cotton root bark and water to induce abortions. The main reason for this is the lack of modern healthcare. For women with access to healthcare facilities, herbal abortion need not be an option as it puts the mother’s and baby’s lives in danger.

Dong Quai

Dong quai, also known as Angelica sinensis root, is a perennial plant from Japan, Korea, and China. It has long been used as a medicinal plant to relax muscles and purify the blood. Some midwives also used it to induce labor in late-term pregnancies.

It is believed to cause abortions, possibly due to its trans-ferulic acid that may have anti-inflammatory effects. However, this plant is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so its side effects are not as well known as those of medicines prescribed for abortion. This makes dong quai unsafe for pregnant women. It has also been shown to cause birth defects. (9) Dong quai is a risky herb that has no guaranteed results.

Tansy

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is an herbaceous plant. Usually mistaken for a weed, tansy plants are common in temperate parts of the United States. They are often used for stomach troubles like bloating, stomach spasms, and ulcers. They are also useful for pain relief for certain conditions like rheumatism and sciatica.

Some women use tansy to cause an abortion, but this process is dangerous. Tansy secretes thujone, a chemical compound considered to be toxic. It is banned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food flavor because of its adverse effects on livestock and humans. Consumption of this plant has been linked to illness and death in humans. (10)

Black Cumin Seeds

Black cumin (Nigella Sativa) is an annual flowering plant known for its black, crescent-shaped seeds. Its other names are black seed, black caraway, black sesame, onion seed, and Roman coriander. It contains phytochemicals and antioxidants that help fight diseases like cancer and heart disease.

It is also used as an abortifacient, especially in Asia, but there is not enough evidence to support its use in pregnancy. In fact, some studies documented the relaxant effects of black seeds on smooth muscles like the stomach and intestines. (11) This fights contractions and can be viewed as counter-productive for women trying to get an abortion.

It is not safe for pregnant women to consume black cumin except in doses commonly present in food.

Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an herb native to the Mediterranean region, Europe, and western Asia. Fenugreek seeds are traditionally used in cooking and as medicine for several diseases like diabetes, menopause, arthritis, poor thyroid function, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Breastfeeding moms who take fenugreek for milk production need to be warned that this herb might be associated with abortion. It’s important not to take fenugreek during pregnancy, especially for women who have a history of miscarriage. Studies show that fenugreek is a powerful teratogen, a substance that causes malformation in a developing embryo or fetus. (12)

It has been linked to fetal death, reduced birth weight, and physical abnormalities in babies. (13) This can become a serious problem in case of a failed abortion.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) are edible seeds cultivated from the sesame plant. Some cultures believe that sesame seeds can lead to abortion when consumed in large doses. They consider the seeds as heat-producing and bad for the fetus.

However, there is insufficient evidence to prove that sesame seeds are effective abortifacients. Instead, they are proven to be good for everyone’s health as they are abundant in calcium, iron, amino acids, and vitamins. One study even recommends the use of sesame seeds as iron supplements for pregnant women. (14) It should be safe to eat sesame seeds in reasonable amounts.

Goji Berry

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum), also known as wolfberries, are dark red or orange berries that are native to China. It comes from the goji tree, whose leaves, bark, roots, and berries are useful for medicinal purposes. 

Some people claim that goji berries are good for abortion, but no scientific evidence has proven this so far. Cases of miscarriage related to wolfberries are most likely anecdotal. What we do know is that goji berries are considered superfoods and are even used to treat morning sickness. They have many healing properties including antioxidants. In one study, researchers found that they have the potential to prevent premature ovarian failure. (15)

Parsley

Parsley is a flowering plant widely used for culinary purposes. It’s safe when consumed in small amounts as part of food, but in concentrated form, parsley can stimulate contractions in the uterus. As such, it has been widely used as an abortion herb in places where abortion is illegal or access to abortion-related medical services is limited.

In Italy, parsley is known to be women’s choice of DIY abortion. This, however, had resulted in tragic results in some cases where women suffered massive bleeding and died. (16) For those who survive, multiple organ failure is another possible outcome. (17)

Without a known safe dosage, using parsley for abortion is a highly risky procedure for women.

Rue

Rue (Ruta graveolens) is a perennial herb native to Southern Europe. Rue plant leaves, used as food seasoning, have a strong smell and bitter taste. Rue oil is particularly dangerous to pregnant women as it is believed to cause uterine contractions.

When consumed in large doses, it can prove toxic. Some of its side effects are kidney and liver failure. There are studies that show rue oil can kill both mother and baby when attempting an abortion. (18) Rue is a hazardous herb when used in purposes other than food flavoring.

Licorice

Licorice is an herb that is native to the Mediterranean, Russia, and parts of Asia. It’s the main ingredient of black licorice candy, but many “licorice” products, such as red licorice, have no licorice in them.

It is not safe to consume licorice in large amounts for weeks or in smaller amounts for a long time. Eating licorice while pregnant has been linked to cognitive and behavioral problems in children, who may suffer from memory problems, language issues, or ADHD problems. (19) Excessive intake of glycyrrhizic acid in licorice can bring serious health complications like heart failure in people, regardless of age. (20)

Using herbs like licorice for natural abortion requires large doses which is harmful not just to the fetus but the mother as well.

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) is made from the seeds of the evening primrose plant native to North America. It has always been used to treat common maladies like digestive problems, hemorrhoids, bruises, and sore throats.

Evening primrose oil may be useful but it takes caution to use it. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, evening primrose oil may be safe to use for a short time, but the impact of long-term use is not yet known. (21) It is also not proven if it’s effective as a labor inducer. One study found that using the oil does not help speed up labor and has even been linked to some delivery problems like delayed membrane rupture and arrest of descent. (22)

This, of course, contradicts its reputation as an abortion remedy. With the lack of definitive studies on this oil, it is best for pregnant women to stay away from evening primrose oil.

Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal oil is derived from the leaves of the pennyroyal ((Mentha pulegium). It has historically been used as tea flavor, medicine, and insecticide. When taken orally, pennyroyal oil has severe toxic effects to the body.

Pennyroyal oil secretes pulegone, which causes damage to the kidneys and liver and has been known to result in death. (23) There is no cure for pennyroyal oil poisoning, so using pennyroyal oil for abortion is highly risky for women. To cause a miscarriage, women will need to ingest large doses of the agent and this could lead to severe damage or even death.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is a vegetable oil extracted from castor beans and known for its benefits to the face and skin. Some women use this oil as an abortion remedy.

It is believed that castor oil can bring on labor in term pregnancies, but some studies reveal that using castor oil does not make much difference in labor. (24) This puts the role of castor oil as an abortive agent in doubt. Furthermore, castor seeds are poisonous and ingesting them for the purpose of abortion will lead to adverse effects on a woman’s health or even death. (25)

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tea used as a mild sedative and a cure for stomach problems. Pregnant women are advised against drinking herbal teas like chamomile because of the lack of evidence on its safety in pregnancy. (26)

There are abortion practitioners who recommend using chamomile tea to terminate a pregnancy. Like tansy, chamomile contains small amounts of thujone, which is a chemical compound that can cause uterine contractions. However, in order to achieve this result, women need to take large doses of this tea, which again has not been proven safe in pregnancy. It is best not to use chamomile tea for abortion and seek medical help instead.

Green Tea

Green tea is made from Camellia sinensis leaves and not considered an herbal tea. Similar to coffee, green tea contains caffeine, albeit in smaller concentrations. Although some would advise green tea intake during pregnancy as safe, it is best if pregnant women will avoid teas of this kind as caffeine has been linked to an increased risk of having a miscarriage.

Caffeine is a substance that gets to the placenta and stays longer in a pregnant woman’s body than normal. Although older studies on the subject are conflicting, one large study of caffeine found that consuming at least one serving of black tea, coffee, and green tea during early pregnancy was connected to higher chances of spontaneous abortion. (27) Other studies have linked caffeine consumption to premature labor, low birth weight, and birth defects.

While there have not been any conclusive studies done on humans, it is still better to play it safe and avoid green tea during pregnancy.

Vitamin C Abortion

Vitamin C is a common vitamin supplement for pregnant women. There are some who advocate that vitamin C can be used for abortion because they believe it stops the flow of progesterone to the uterus. However, there is no clinical evidence to support this.

A study reviewed by Cochrane, a British science organization, found that even though taking vitamins does not prevent miscarriage, women who take vitamins have a higher chance of having a multiple pregnancy, which is not the kind of outcome expected from an abortion method. This 2011 study also did not find enough evidence to determine the effects of vitamins on miscarriage. (28) This further shows that there is insufficient proof out there that vitamin C is indeed an effective abortifacient.

Of course, it’s important not to take too much vitamin C at any time as overdosing has been associated with sickle-cell anemia and kidney disease.

Aspirin Abortion

There are some conflicting studies on the impact of aspirin on reproduction. Aspirin has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage, yet it is used as part of some treatments for recurrent miscarriage.

There is research that suggests taking a daily low-dose of 81 milligrams of aspirin could help prevent a recurrence in women who previously experienced a miscarriage as well as help with other complications like preeclampsia. (29) However, in a contrasting 2014 study, researchers found that a daily low-dose of aspirin can prevent miscarriage only when it is recent; it does not help women with a history of one or two pregnancy losses. (30)

Meanwhile, taking higher doses of aspirin during the first trimester results in heart problems in the fetus. During the third trimester, it can close a vessel in the baby’s heart. (31) Aspirin is not a guaranteed method of abortion and it may result in serious problems in a fetus when taken incorrectly.

Laxatives

Constipation is a common predicament in pregnancy. As the uterus expands for the baby, it pushes against intestines and makes it harder to move bowels. Increasing fiber and water intake is the first step in relieving constipation, but if it does not work, laxatives may be prescribed.

When taken as instructed, laxatives are not expected to cause harm to a pregnant woman as most laxatives are not absorbed by the digestive system. Some people claim that laxatives can be used for abortion. However, older laxatives are not linked to abortion, while newer versions do not have enough data to suggest abortive effects. (32) As with anything, taking too much laxative can be harmful and may result in dehydration and diarrhea.

Acupuncture

Some abortion practitioners believe that acupuncture can result in an abortion by applying pressure to specific points in the body, namely the areas between the index finger and thumb, above the ankle, and in the shoulder. This is not supported by scientific evidence.

Studies have found no reliable link between acupuncture and abortion even in cases of fetal death inside the womb. There is also no evidence to prove that abortion can happen upon needling at ‘forbidden’ pressure points, regardless of what traditional medicine claims. (33)

There is even a study that linked acupuncture to pregnancy success rates in cases of in vitro fertilization. They found that women who received acupuncture after embryo transfer have lower chances of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies. (34)

Massage

Pregnant women who are considering having a massage should consult their doctors first. There is zero proven link between an ordinary body massage like shiatsu and abortion or miscarriage, but many massage therapists refuse giving massages during the first trimester of pregnancy because this period in itself has a high risk of ending in pregnancy loss.

Meanwhile, in some countries in Southeast Asia and Africa, massage has been historically used to induce abortion. Massage abortion is different from a regular pregnancy massage. It involves putting direct pressure on the abdomen until vaginal bleeding occurs. Many of these cases end up in a hospital with internal bleeding and a severely damaged uterus. This procedure is prohibited by law enforcers and medical professionals and puts a woman’s life in danger. (35) (36)

Overall, having a massage is considered safe unless there is an intention to harm the fetus inside. Pregnant women who want to enjoy a relaxing massage should consult a certified prenatal massage therapist. They receive special training designed for pregnancy that most therapists do not have.

Hot Water Showers

For many years, people believe that taking a hot bath can cause a miscarriage. They think that bathing in hot water will aggravate a woman’s reproductive system and induce a spontaneous abortion. Recent research supports these beliefs.

Particularly, bathing in a hot tub for 10 minutes can raise a pregnant woman’s temperature to 102 F or 38.9 C, a dangerous degree that leads to hyperthermia and has been linked with neural tube defects in babies. (37) There is less research on taking hot water showers, but, in general, long or frequent showers were found to be related to maternal hyperthermia and exposure to harmful water disinfectants. Both of which cause birth defects, particularly gastroschisis, a condition where a baby’s intestines develop outside of his body. (38)

This is why it is recommended for pregnant women to keep their showers less than 15 minutes and warm showers a lot shorter to avoid negative effects. Hot water showers are not a safe method of abortion.

Exercise

There is no definite link between exercise and miscarriage or abortion. One study in 2007 made a tentative link between strenuous exercise and miscarriage risk, but the methodology is deemed by UK’s National Health Service as subject to bias. (39)

Most doctors would advise exercise for pregnant women. Light and moderate exercise poses minimal risk for healthy women with a normal pregnancy. (40) Government guidelines from nine countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, support moderate physical activity that does not involve risks of trauma, collisions, or falls for pregnant women. (41) Different women have different needs, however, so pregnant women should always consult a doctor before engaging in any form of exercise.

Sexual Intercourse

In the past, doctors used to think that sexual intercourse during pregnancy was a cause of miscarriage, so couples were advised against coitus while pregnant. In 2007, a review of preventive interventions on miscarriage revealed that there is no evidence to establish a direct connection between sex and miscarriage. (42)

A 2012 study of Iranian couples found that frequency of sex naturally lowered during pregnancy. It also showed that intercourse was a good labor inducer in term pregnancies and did not harm the fetus. (43) There are exceptions, of course. Avoidance of sex is usually recommended for pregnant women with amniotic problems and a history of preterm labor or premature birth. (44) There is no definitive study on the link between sex and abortion.

Disclaimer

Although we have taken care to present facts from the latest scientific research and subject matter authorities, the information presented in this article should NOT be treated as expert medical advice.

There is no substitute for medical guidance from a licensed physician or a healthcare provider. It is strongly recommended that you should consult your doctor before adopting any of the above-mentioned methods. If you have questions and concerns about pregnancy or abortion, please talk to your doctor. This article is provided for informational purposes only.

Reasons for Abortion

There are many reasons why women decide to get an abortion. Two separate studies from 1987 and 2004 explored the different reasons for abortion as told by the women themselves. Here are some common themes:

A.   Personal Reasons

In a 1987 survey of 1,900 abortion patients in the US, researchers found that most women had at least four (4) reasons why they chose to have an abortion. Most of the respondents (75%) said that their responsibilities at work, school, and home were the number one factor for their decision to have an abortion. Half of them did not want to be single parents, while 27% of teenage mothers said they were too young to have a baby. (45)

In a 2004 study that explored the same questions, researchers surveyed 1,209 women who were abortion patients across 11 abortion providers in the US. The most common reason cited by 74% of the respondents remained the same: Women considered having a child as a hindrance to their education, work, or ability to care for dependents such as their own children. Almost four in 10 women said they were done with childbearing, and about 33% said they were not ready for a child. (46)

B.   Relationship Reasons

In the 1987 survey, half of the women cited relationship problems as a reason for abortion. Among teenage respondents, 19% said their parents wanted them to have an abortion. (47) As for the 2004 study, 48% still considered relationship problems as part of their decision, while a significantly fewer number of teenage women (less than 1%) gave their parents’ or partners’ wishes as a reason. (48) Women have always viewed their relationships with their partners or parents as important but fewer women get an abortion to satisfy their family’s wishes.

C.   Health Reasons

In both surveys, less than 10 percent of women cited health as a reason.  Some women feared that continuing the pregnancy would harm them or the fetus with health concerns ranging from morning sickness to cancer. (49)

D.   Financial Reasons

In 1987, nearly two-thirds said they did not have the financial means to raise a child. (50) Similarly, 73% of 2004 respondents gave the same reason. (51) Affordability is the second most important reason why women undergo abortions.

E.   Moral Reasons

Pregnant single women in 1987 were more likely to get an abortion to hide their pregnancy from others. (52) This factor is absent from the more recent survey. In both surveys, one percent said they were victims of rape, and an even lower number reported incest as a reason for their abortion. (53)

The researchers concluded that the women in the survey were aware of the consequences of their actions with most of them already being mothers. To them, abortion was not something they wanted to do but their best option given the circumstances of their lives. (54)

Miscarriage

A miscarriage refers to the loss of an embryo or fetus anytime before the 20th week of pregnancy. One of the main signs of a miscarriage is bleeding in the vagina, which may be accompanied by lower stomach pain or cramping. (55)

Even in normal pregnancies, spotting or light bleeding may occur. It’s also normal to experience some mild cramping. If the pain is severe or the bleeding is heavier than normal, a pregnant woman should seek medical attention immediately. (56)

Causes of Miscarriage

An estimated sixty percent of miscarriages happen because of chromosomal abnormalities during the embryo’s formation. This is beyond the control of the mother as genetic problems occur randomly. There is no known precursor for genetic problems in early pregnancy. (57)

Additionally, a mother’s age is an important risk factor why miscarriages happen. Older women aged 45 years or more have higher chances of a miscarriage than their 20 to 24-year-old counterparts. (58)

Having a miscarriage is also linked to systemic infections like dengue fever, malaria, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and influenza virus. The effects of other infections like human papillomavirus, Chlamydia trachomatis, herpes simplex virus, parvovirus B19, Toxoplasma gondii, and hepatitis B are less certain due to conflicting studies, but it’s important for mothers to guard against infections. (59)

Most of the time, however, the cause of a miscarriage is unknown. Among women who experience recurrent miscarriage, no cause can be determined 50 to 75% of the time. (60)

Chance of Miscarriage

Miscarriage is more common than people think. Experiencing a miscarriage is the most frequent complication of pregnancy as it affects 12 to 24% of all pregnancies. (61) Here are other statistics on miscarriage:

  • An estimated 80% of all miscarriages happen during the first three months of pregnancy, which is why it’s also called early pregnancy loss. (62)
  • In the UK, one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. (63)
  • For women who are aware of their pregnancy, 1 in 8 pregnancies will be lost. More miscarriages are estimated for women who are not aware they are pregnant. (64)
  • A recurrent miscarriage is when a woman loses 3 consecutive pregnancies. This happens rarely and only affects approximately 1 in 100 women. (65)
  • Women 35 years old and younger have an estimated 15% chance of miscarriage. (66)
  • Women between 35 and 45 years old have 20-35% chance, while women over 45 have a 50% risk of miscarriage. (67)

The statistics may sound harsh, but the good news is 85% of women who experience miscarriage end up with a normal pregnancy and a live birth afterward. (68) A miscarriage is not a reason to stop trying if a couple wants to get pregnant.

Spontaneous Abortion

Spontaneous abortion is the medical term for a miscarriage. Just like a miscarriage, spontaneous abortion involves the loss of a fetus before natural birth. As the word ‘spontaneous’ suggests, this type of abortion is not planned and unintentional. (69

During the first 20 weeks, an estimated 20 to 30%  of all confirmed pregnancies experience bleeding, with half of this number ending in spontaneous abortion. Among all pregnancies, the number may be higher as spontaneous bleeding is confused for a late period by some women. (70)

This is different from an induced abortion, which is a procedure or a treatment that aims to intentionally end a pregnancy. (71) In the past, doctors did not differentiate between the terms ‘miscarriage’ and ‘abortion’ and mostly interchanged them, but terminology changed in the 1980s starting with the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. (72) Today, doctors recognize that abortions are either spontaneous or induced and that women who experience this life event refer to it as a miscarriage rather than an abortion.

Countries Where Abortion Is Illegal

In the 19th century, nearly all countries limited access to abortion, with most colonizers like Britain and Spain banning abortion on their territories. (73) There are varied reasons for these restrictions. Traditionally, abortion was viewed as a sin or a form of murder. In some places, abortion was prohibited because of the danger it posed on young women, given the limited means of treatment then. (74) Today, the same reasons are used to justify abortion bans in many places in the world.

The following countries have a total abortion ban regardless of the impact on women’s health or the circumstances of the conception (e.g. rape or incest). (75)

Andorra

Malta

San Marino

Angola

Congo-Brazzaville

Congo-Kinshasa

Egypt

Gabon

Guinea-Bissau

Madagascar

Mauritania

São Tomé & Príncipe

Senegal

Iraq

Laos

Marshall Islands

Micronesia

Palau

Philippines

Tonga

Dominican Republic

El Salvador

Haiti

Honduras

Nicaragua

Suriname

 

Thirty-seven more countries, including Brazil, Mexico, and Indonesia, prohibit abortion unless done to save a woman’s life. (76) Ireland recently repealed this kind of prohibition and now allows abortion by choice. (77) For the rest of the world, abortion is broadly legal: 36 more countries permit abortion to preserve a woman’s health, 13 countries (e.g. Great Britain, India, and Japan) accept socio-economic reasons for abortion, and 61 countries have no restriction on abortion, Australia and the United States among them. (78)

It’s noteworthy that in Latin America, where most countries restrict abortion, approximately 6.5 million abortions were performed every year from 2010 to 2014. (79) In countries that limit access to abortion, women are usually forced to seek help through illegal and unsafe means. In Latin America, for instance, it is estimated that millions of women use misoprostol to induce abortion by themselves, usually obtained from the black market and shady websites. (80)

Parts of US Where Abortion Is Restricted

In 1973, the US Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States after the landmark Roe v. Wade case that upheld a woman’s right to privacy as part of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. (81) Since then, the number of abortions in the US has significantly dropped over the years. (82)

The most current data from CDC shows that, in 2014, 652,639 abortions were reported to the agency or 12.1 abortions for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years old. This number actually shows a decline of 2% in the rate of abortion from 2013 to 2014. (83) One of the possible reasons for the decrease in the national abortion rate is the increase in women’s use of ‘out-of-clinic abortion’ like herbs and home remedies, which are not reported to authorities. (84)

Despite the legality of abortion, women face many obstacles in getting one. For instance, US federal law restricts funding for abortion services; one restriction is the Hyde Amendment, which states that abortion services are not covered by Medicaid and Medicare. (85)

Although abortion is legal in the United States, US states have varying restrictions on abortion. In most states (84%), a licensed doctor is required to perform an abortion, while 19 states require a hospital setting after a specified pregnancy week. (86) Forty-three states do not allow abortions after a specific point in the pregnancy (mostly at 20 weeks) except in cases where the mother’s life or health is in danger. (87) Here’s a list:

Alabama

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

 

Source: Guttmacher Institute (88)

Of these states, three (3) states (i.e. Idaho, Michigan, and Rhode Island) allow late-term abortions only when a woman’s life is at risk. (89) This means that women in these states cannot have an abortion for reasons of physical and mental health after 24 weeks of pregnancy. In addition, 27 states require women to undergo counseling and a ‘waiting period’ of 18-72 hours before deciding to continue with an abortion; this list includes Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Oklahoma (both need 72 hours), and 21 others. (90)

As of November 15, 2018, all US states allow abortion but with several different restrictions. Aside from the requirements above, some states have limitations of funding and facilities. A 2018 study found that many abortion clinics are ‘not evenly distributed geographically’ with several large cities lacking any facility, which then discourages women from seeking abortion care. (91)

Risks of Natural Abortion

In the US, abortion is a legal procedure, but because of the limitations in getting an abortion, more and more women are seeking alternative methods elsewhere. Particularly, women who live in states with restrictive abortion rules tend to look for abortion information online. (92) In a 2015 survey of Texas women, researchers found that an estimated 100,000-240,000 women had attempted to self-induce an abortion; among the methods they used were herbs and trauma to the abdomen. (93) This happened after Texas closed almost half of its abortion clinics. (94)

Natural abortion is growing in popularity each day as an inexpensive and convenient method of abortion. This involves using herbs to induce an abortion or doing physical activities like massages in such an extreme manner that results in pregnancy loss. This type of abortion is considered ‘unsafe abortion’ because the methods are usually not legal, not supervised by a medical professional, and highly risky for both the mother and fetus.

Herbal medicines, in particular, are widely used in pregnancy. Between 7% and 55% of pregnant women are estimated to use plants and herb as a substitute for prescription medicines. (95) Herbal products may be natural, but many of those used in pregnancy contain chemical compounds that are considered harmful. (96) For example, pennyroyal and licorice are herbs used by pregnant women in Asia to ease digestive problems, but pennyroyal has been linked to maternal death and licorice to preterm labor. (97)

Across the world, an estimated 5 million women have to be hospitalized every year because of complications from unsafe abortion. (98) Some of the common complications are death, infection, sepsis, hemorrhage, genital trauma, and necrotic bowel—not to mention the psychological and financial impact of experiencing these complications. (99) These harmful effects are not worth the risk of getting a natural abortion.

Safe Abortion Methods

In countries where abortion is legal, women have several options for safe abortion methods. These methods are categorized according to the time in pregnancy when they are safe to perform. Here’s a quick list:

A. Medical Abortion

Medical abortion is an abortion procedure that makes use of pharmaceutical drugs to end a pregnancy. This process imitates a natural miscarriage and can be done at home. (100) It is viewed as a safer, non-invasive method of abortion. It is most effective in the first trimester of pregnancy and should not be attempted after 9 weeks of pregnancy. (101) Oral mifepristone (Mifeprex) and oral misoprostol (Cytotec) are the most common medications used in medical abortion. (102) Some of the known side effects of this procedure are bleeding, cramping, and nausea. It is not advised for women who may have previous allergic reactions to the drugs. (103)

B. Vacuum Aspiration

Vacuum aspiration, also known as suction abortion, is a quick procedure that takes place in an abortion clinic. A healthcare provider uses anesthesia before dilating the cervix to a certain diameter and inserting a tube that sucks the fetus out. (104) There is a small risk of injury to the uterus or cervix but with no other known side effects. This is also advised for women who cannot undergo a medical abortion. (105)

C. Dilation & Evacuation (D&E)

This is a surgical abortion procedure usually done after 16 weeks of pregnancy. (106) Some doctors can do vacuum aspiration until 14 weeks, but the most common procedure during the second trimester is D&E. (107) A doctor will use suction similar to vacuum aspiration and then forceps and a curette to remove remaining tissues in the uterus. Medication may also be prescribed to help with the bleeding. (108) This procedure is safe, and using D&E has no known absolute contraindications. (109)

D. Induction Abortion

Aside from D&E, induction abortion is another procedure for late-term abortions. This surgical procedure makes use of urea, salt water, or potassium chloride and injects them into the amniotic sac. (110) This liquid kills the fetus and, with help from prostaglandins, it is then expelled from the uterus. (111) However, many states prohibit late-term abortions after 24 weeks, so it’s prudent to check the legality of performing this procedure in your state.

According to the WHO, where abortion is done in secret, women tend to use unsafe abortion methods that end up costing the state more in treating abortion complications, ranging from damage to reproductive organs to mortality. (112) If you or anyone you know is planning to have an abortion, it is best to consult a healthcare provider or visit a facility authorized to provide abortion services. These clinics and hospitals are required to follow safety standards when performing abortions and they can help you in cases of complications after abortion. 

Precautions to Take Before Abortion

Just like any medical procedure, women need to be prepared for an abortion. Women who are informed about the things they need to do before an abortion can make better decisions about their pre and post-abortion care. Here’s a list of things to do:

A. Know Your Options

Before you schedule your appointment, educate yourself on the different abortion methods available to you. Check with your healthcare provider about the best method to use for your specific case. For example, how many weeks have you been pregnant? Do you have any medical conditions your doctor has to know about? The more you know, the better you can prepare yourself for the abortion procedure.

B. Check the Legal Restrictions

It’s important that you understand what you are allowed to do with your pregnancy. In the United States, 43 states do not allow abortions during the third trimester unless a woman’s life or health is in danger. Twenty (20) states, such as Arizona, New Hampshire, and Virginia, ban ‘partial-birth’ abortions. (113) This procedure involves the partial delivery and killing of a living fetus and sounds eerily similar to ‘dilation and extraction,’ a medical abortion procedure that may not be allowed where you live. (114) (115)

C. Bring Necessary Items

You need to bring any medication that you’re taking. The clinic may also ask you to bring certain items like a referral letter from your doctor or notes from your consultations. Do not forget items that are important for your hygiene such as a pair of underwear, sanitary pads, or extra clothes. (116)

D. Have a Companion

It’s perfectly okay to get an abortion alone, especially if you are of legal age, but if possible, it’s good to have someone you trust with you. Choose someone who will be calm and supportive throughout your visit and not someone who will judge your decisions. Depending on the clinic’s policy, they may not be allowed to go with you to the procedure room, but just knowing you have someone waiting outside can help ease your anxiety about the upcoming procedure.

E. Ask for Painkillers

If necessary, do not be afraid to ask your healthcare provider for pain management medication. Facilities are obliged to provide analgesics, anesthesia, or conscious sedation when needed and depending on the type of procedure. In surgical abortions, you may need to take antibiotics to prevent infections after the procedure. (117)

F. Prepare Your Payment

One of the first things you have to know is how much an abortion will cost you. In 2014, the average cost of a clinical abortion at 10 weeks gestation and with local anesthesia was pegged at $508; early medical abortion was costlier at $535. (118)

Many private insurance providers do not cover abortion, but you should call them to make sure. Because of the Hyde Amendment, Medicare and Medicaid recipients cannot receive financial assistance from their insurance except in cases of rape and incest or if the pregnancy is life-threatening. (119) A 2013 survey found that at least 69% of women paid for their own abortions instead of using insurance. (120)  

You might find some financial help from certain organizations like the National Network of Abortion Funds and the National Abortion Federation Hotline Fund.

Steps To Take After Abortion

There are some steps you need to take to make sure that you recover fully after your abortion. Generally, surgical and medical abortions that are supervised by a medical professional are safe procedures with very few complications. Here is a list of what you can expect:

  • For surgical abortion, you can go home on the same day as the procedure. (121)
  • It is normal to experience some side effects after your abortion, including abdominal cramps, nausea, light bleeding in the vagina, sore breasts, and fatigue. (122)
  • Before leaving the clinic or hospital, you may receive information on contraceptives from the facility. You can also ask them for help to get necessary contraception. (123)
  • Avoid having sex for 2 weeks following your abortion. Aside from the possibility of getting pregnant, sexual intercourse may cause an infection. (124) (125)
  • Call the clinic in case of other complications or if you have any questions or concerns.

The pace of recovery is different for everyone, but you normally don’t have to worry if you followed the advice of your doctor. Give your mind and body time to heal from the physical and possibly emotional scars of getting an abortion.

Natural Abortion Is Unsafe Abortion

It’s estimated that 56 million abortions occurred every year from 2010 to 2014 worldwide. (126) It’s undeniable that many women opt to get an abortion for unintended pregnancies each year. What’s alarming, however, is the rise of natural abortion methods among pregnant women, given the ease of searching for ‘herbal abortion’ or ‘DIY abortion’ online.

There are websites that claim magic formulas using herbs. Many of these herbs are not safe to use during pregnancy. To induce an abortion, large doses of these herbal medicines are necessary and doing so has led to death and other long-term complications. (127) Recent data reveals that a minimum of 8% maternal deaths worldwide is due to complications of unsafe abortion; even with the advancements in medical care, 22,800 women still die each year with 6.9 million more requiring treatment for complications. (128)

It’s also hard to tell whether ‘success stories’ are due indeed to the effectiveness of the herbal product or simply coincides with a miscarriage, a very high possibility in early pregnancy. This is why we highly discourage women from using herbs or strenuous physical activity to induce abortion. It’s best if pregnant women consume culinary herbs like parsley and sesame seeds in normal amounts found in food and totally avoid harmful herbal products like pennyroyal and fenugreek seeds. (129)

If you or someone you know wants to get an abortion, there are medical procedures that will help get you an abortion in a safe, medically supervised environment. They use methods and pharmacological drugs that are proven to be effective and have fewer side effects than natural abortion methods. Do not take your chances with unsafe abortion.

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