Abortion

An abortion is when a pregnancy ends early without the birth of any live children.

A developing human takes about thirty-eight weeks to grow and be born. Normally, this occurs about forty weeks after the mother's last menstrual period. This developing human is called an embryo for the first eight weeks of the pregnancy, and fetus for the rest of the pregnancy.

An abortion takes place when the embryo/fetus is too young and small to survive without its mother. When an abortion occurs naturally, it is often called a miscarriage. Humans can also chose to end the pregnancy before birth takes place. This is called an induced abortion. Often, the term abortion often refers only to an induced abortion.

In both types of abortion, the embryo or fetus usually comes out of the womb. This is called a complete abortion. In some cases, the embryo or fetus remains inside the womb. This is called a missed abortion. Surgery is needed to remove the embryo or fetus from the womb so the woman does not get an infection.

Different countries have different laws regarding induced abortion. While abortion is illegal in many countries, there are often exceptions that permit it in cases such as family incest, rape, the fetus having severe disabilities or the mother's health being at risk.

Spontaneous abortions

Names

People speak of spontaneous abortion or miscarriage when the embryo or fetus is lost due to natural causes before the 20th week of pregnancy. A pregnancy that ends this way, but that is between 20 and 37 weeks old is known as "premature birth" if the baby is born alive. If the fetus dies in the womb after 20 weeks, or while it is born, this is known as "stillbirth". Premature births and stillbirths are generally not considered to be miscarriages.

How common they are

Spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) are common. About fifteen percent of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion. In many cases, the woman is not even aware she was pregnant. The pregnancy is only a few days or weeks old and the woman believes the miscarriage is just her menses. About twenty-five percent of all women will have a spontaneous abortion during their lives.[1]

Most miscarriages occur very early. Between ten and fifty percent of pregnancies end with a miscarriage, where the mother or the doctors are aware of it. These figures depend on the age and health of the pregnant woman.[2] Most spontaneous abortions occur so early in the pregnancy that the woman is not even aware that she was pregnant. One particular study showed that 61.9% of pregnancies end in miscarriage before 12 weeks. In 91.7% of these miscarriages, the woman did not know she was pregnant.[3]

The risk of spontaneous abortion decreases sharply after the 10th week of pregnancy,[4] with a loss rate between 8.5 weeks LMP and birth of about two percent; pregnancy loss is “virtually complete by the end of the embryonic period."[5]

Some people are more likely to have a spontaneous abortion

Those people who have already had several spontaneous or induced abortions run a greater risk of having a spontaneous one. Those with certain diseases, and those over the age 35 also run a greater risk. Other causes for abortions can be the infection of either the woman or embryo/fetus, or their immune response. Certain diseases or an accidental trauma can also cause a spontaneous abortion. Putting the woman under trauma or stress to cause miscarriage is considered induced abortion. Some countries call this feticide.[6]

Cause of spontaneous abortions

Most miscarriages are due to problems with the copying of chromosomes, but some are caused by environmental factors. When a human is conceived, it gets 23 chromosomes from its mother and 23 from its father. If it does not get the right number its development happens wrong (it does not grow right.) It may have many bad birth defects.

Most embryos and fetuses with chromosome problems will not live for a long time. They die very early. There are a few chromosome problems that babies can sometimes be born with. For example, Down syndrome happens when there are three copies of chromosome #21. (Usually people have 2 of every chromosome.) This is called trisomy 21 (tri- means 3.)

Symptoms of spontaneous abortions

The most common symptom is bleeding from the vagina. This can be very little blood (less blood than a normal menses.) It can be very much blood (much more than a normal menses.) Some women have bad pains in their low abdomen when they have a miscarriage. This is sometimes like the pain of menses. It can be much worse. Or a woman may have no pain at all. If the pregnancy is many weeks old, the woman may see the embryo or fetus when it comes out. But if it is less than 12 weeks old a woman may not see anything but blood.

Treatment of spontaneous abortions

Usually, no treatment is needed for a miscarriage. However, sometimes some pregnancy tissue remains in the womb after the miscarriage and must be removed. Sometimes doctors do a surgical abortion. This is the same kind of surgery that is done for induced abortions. Doctors can also prescribe women medicines that can help the miscarriage finish without needing surgery.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Aborsie
العربية: إجهاض
aragonés: Alborto
asturianu: Albuertu
Avañe'ẽ: Membykua
azərbaycanca: Abort
বাংলা: গর্ভপাত
Bân-lâm-gú: Jîn-kang liû-sán
башҡортса: Аборт
беларуская: Аборт
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Аборт
български: Аборт
bosanski: Pobačaj
català: Avortament
čeština: Interrupce
Chi-Chewa: Kuchotsa mimba
chiShona: Kubvisa nhumbu
Cymraeg: Erthyliad
dansk: Abort
eesti: Abort
Ελληνικά: Έκτρωση
English: Abortion
español: Aborto
Esperanto: Aborto
euskara: Abortu
فارسی: سقط جنین
Fiji Hindi: Abortion
føroyskt: Fosturtøka
français: Avortement
Frysk: Abortus
Gaeilge: Ginmhilleadh
galego: Aborto
한국어: 낙태
հայերեն: Վիժում
हिन्दी: गर्भपात
hrvatski: Pobačaj
Ilokano: Alis
Bahasa Indonesia: Gugur kandungan
interlingua: Aborto
ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ/inuktitut: ᐃᓄᐃᑎᑦᑐᖅ
íslenska: Fóstureyðing
italiano: Aborto
Basa Jawa: Aborsi
Kabɩyɛ: Hɔɔ lɩzɩɣ
Kapampangan: Abortion
ქართული: აბორტი
қазақша: Аборт
Kiswahili: Utoaji mimba
Кыргызча: Аборт
Latina: Abortus
latviešu: Aborts
Lëtzebuergesch: Ofdreiwung
lietuvių: Abortas
Limburgs: Abortus
lumbaart: Abort
मैथिली: गर्भपतन
македонски: Абортус
Malagasy: Fanalan-jaza
മലയാളം: ഗർഭഛിദ്രം
Malti: Abort
मराठी: गर्भपात
مصرى: اجهاض
Bahasa Melayu: Pengguguran
монгол: Аборт
Nederlands: Abortus
नेपाली: गर्भपतन
日本語: 妊娠中絶
norsk: Abort
norsk nynorsk: Abort
occitan: Avortament
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଗର୍ଭପାତ
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Abort
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਗਰਭਪਾਤ
پنجابی: ابورشن
Patois: Abaashan
Piemontèis: Abòrt
polski: Aborcja
português: Aborto
română: Avort
Runa Simi: Sulluchiy
русиньскый: Аборт
русский: Аборт
සිංහල: ගබ්සාව
slovenčina: Interrupcia
slovenščina: Splav
کوردی: لەبەرچوون
српски / srpski: Побачај
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Abortus
suomi: Abortti
svenska: Abort
Tagalog: Pagpapalaglag
татарча/tatarça: Аборт
తెలుగు: గర్భస్రావం
Türkçe: Kürtaj
Türkmençe: Abort
українська: Аборт
Tiếng Việt: Phá thai
Winaray: Punit
ייִדיש: אבארטאציע
Yorùbá: Ìṣẹ́yún
粵語: 落仔
Zazaki: Kurtaj
žemaitėška: Abuorts
中文: 堕胎