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Should I Have a Scan Before an Abortion?

Ultrasound scans aren’t always offered before abortions, but there are some good reasons to choose a private abortion clinic that will perform a scan before you have a termination. The scan results can help you to make the right decisions about your care and they will enable your doctor to make better recommendations about your treatment.

Why Have an Ultrasound Before an Abortion?

One reason why we recommend having an ultrasound scan before an abortion is that it enables us to get an accurate date for your pregnancy. Working out when you got pregnant can be tricky, especially if it was unplanned. We can tell how long you’ve been pregnant by measuring the size of the pregnancy sac or embryo. Knowing the length of the pregnancy is important because it determines which kinds of termination can be performed.

We also recommend ultrasound scans because they allow us to check for any health issues that could affect your abortion. We will also be able to check whether the pregnancy would be viable if you decided to continue with it. Approximately 1 in 3 pregnancies is incapable of continuing and it can be safer to end these with an abortion than to wait for a miscarriage.

One of the issues we will look for is ectopic pregnancy, which happens when the embryo implants in the fallopian tube rather than the uterus. About 1 in 90 pregnancies are ectopic. Ectopic pregnancies are not viable, can cause serious health problems for you and need to be managed in a different way to other abortions. It is therefore very important to know if you have these kinds of issues before you have a termination.

What Happens During the Scan?

When you have an ultrasound before an abortion it will be performed as an internal scan. In order to get clear pictures of your insides and the pregnancy at this early stage, we will need to use a trans-vaginal ultrasound probe.

When you have an internal ultrasound at an abortion clinic:

  • You will be asked to remove the lower half of your clothing and lie down
  • A slim, lubricated ultrasound probe will be inserted into your vagina
  • The ultrasound probe will send out harmless soundwaves
  • The echoes that bounce back from your internal organs will be collected by the ultrasound probe and turned into pictures

Having an internal scan can feel a bit uncomfortable, but it won’t hurt at all. Most women find the scan less uncomfortable than having a cervical smear.

You won’t be made to look at the screen if you don’t want to see, but your doctor will explain the results to you so that you can make an informed decision about your next steps. You will know exactly how long you’ve been pregnant and whether the pregnancy would be viable. You will also be aware of any additional health issues that need to be taken into account when making your decision about ending the pregnancy.

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