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Frequently Asked Questions


Birth Control


How do I get a pregnancy test?

We provide pregnancy tests on a drop in basis. Please call the clinic beforehand to find out what hours the clinic is open. We offer free pregnancy tests, with the results available in a few minutes. We can provide you with a written pregnancy verification for Medi-Cal coverage of an abortion or pre-natal care.

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What can I expect during my abortion?

Many women are concerned about how they will feel both emotionally and physically during their abortion. Women enter our center with a wide spectrum of emotions about having an abortion. The feelings range from sadness to relief. These emotions come from each woman's individual life situation underlying the decision to terminate her pregnancy. A supportive setting, where each woman is treated individually with respect and compassion, makes any woman's abortion experience the best that it can be. The fact that many women are referred to Women's Health Specialists by friends who have been here before, confirms our success in providing such an environment.

What most women describe feeling with their abortions is a sensation similar to menstrual cramping. The amount of discomfort women feel varies from one woman to another, ranging from no cramping at all to strong cramping. While the cramping is similar to most women's periods, it lasts for only five to ten minutes.

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How do I get an abortion?

Call us. Our phone counselors are sensitive, caring women who are well informed and easy to talk with. We will tell you about our services, answer your questions, tell you what you can expect, make an appointment and support you in your decision. At Women's Health Specialists we support your right to choose and make educated decisions about your health care. We believe in informed consent and want you to know the facts about abortion care.

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How are abortions done?

We provide two types of abortion procedures. When it has been less than 12 weeks since your last normal period, the physician performs a vacuum aspiration abortion. A small, flexible tube is inserted through the opening to the uterus (the cervix), and the contents of the uterus are removed using a suction technique. The procedure usually takes less than five minutes, and you may have a friend or relative in the exam room with you, if you wish. You can expect to spend between two and four hours at our center for your appointment.

When it has been over 12 weeks since your last normal period or by sonogram, a dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion is performed. At the first appointment, a sonogram is done to accuratlely measure the pregnancy and a sterile substance, called laminaria, is inserted into the opening of the uterus to safely and gently dilate (stretch) it. On the second day the physician removes the dilators and completes the abortion in 10 to 15 minutes. You will be at the center for two to three hours for each visit.

If you are more than 12 weeks pregnant and will need to stay in to stay in town overnight between your appointments, we can give you referrals to motels near the health center when you call to make your appointment.

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What kind of anesthesia can I get?

You have your choice of anesthesia, from local enesthetic to IV sedation. At WHS specially trained health workers will be with you to help you relax during your abortion. If you choose IV sedation you will need to bring a driver the day of your abortion.

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What else should I know about abortion?

These are some of the most commonly asked questions. We will give you more information when you call and during your visit.

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What is RU 486, the "Abortion Pill"?

It is a way to end pregnancy without surgery using the drug Mifeprex. Mifeprex is the "Abortion Pill" you've heard about and it is finally available in the U.S. Mifeprex can be taken from the time a woman knows she is pregnant up to seven weeks after the beginning of the last menstrual period.

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How does RU 486, the "Abortion Pill" work?

Mifeprex blocks the hormone necessary to maintain a pregnancy. When followed by a second medicine, misoprostol, the uterus contracts to expel the pregnancy.

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What can I expect from taking the "Abortion Pill?"

For most women, the "Abortion Pill" is like an early miscarriage. Bleeding and cramping are a normal part of the process. Side effects that may occur include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, and back pain. You can take a pain reliever to help with the discomfort.

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How effective is the "Abortion Pill?"

Mifeprex followed by misoprostol is approximately 92-95% effective in ending pregnancy. A few women who take Mifeprex will need a surgical abortion to end the pregnancy or to stop heavy bleeding. In the past decade more than half a million women in Europe have used this drug for successfully ending early pregnancy.

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How long does RU 486 take to work?

On day one, you will be given Mifeprex. On day three you will take misoprostol, as a vaginal suppository. Most women miscarry from four to twenty-four hours after taking the combined drug regimen. The expulsion process can last one to four hours. After the pregnancy is expelled, the cramping should subside and bleeding should be minimal. Most women can expect to bleed or spot for an average of nine to sixteen days.

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How is the "Abortion Pill" provided?

There are two steps and at least two visits to WHS. On the first day, you will receive counseling to understand how this option works and to answer your questions. You will have an ultrasound, physical exam, and pregnancy test to determine that you are seven weeks pregnant or less. You will be given Mifeprex to start the abortion process. Fifty percent of women will begin spotting after taking Mifeprex. Two days later, you will take misoprostol as a vaginal suppository. If the bleeding has not already begun, you will start bleeding. The pregnancy will expel from four to twenty-four hours after taking misoprostol. You return to the clinic for a check up after the expulsion of the pregnancy within the next few days.

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How will I know if the "Abortion Pill" was successful?

The check up visit is very important because this will confirm that the abortion was successful and complete. If the abortion was not complete, a surgical abortion will be performed. It is very important that women have a check up, because if the pregnancy was not ended, there may be a chance of birth defects if the woman continues with the pregnancy. If the procedure was incomplete, heavy bleeding and an infection can occur if left untreated by a surgical abortion.

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Is the "Abortion Pill" right for me?

Call Women's Health Specialists to discuss if this option is right for you. Women should not take the "Abortion Pill" if they are over seven weeks pregnant, have an ectopic pregnancy, are taking certain medications, or other particular health problems. You must also be able to return to the clinic for necessary visits and be able to get emergency help.

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When can I begin birth control after taking the "Abortion Pill?"

You can become pregnant right after your pregnancy ends. If you do not want to become pregnant again, you can start using birth control as soon as your pregnancy ends or before you start having sexual intercourse again. WHS can provide you with birth control services at your check up visit.

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How long after taking the morning after pill will it protect me against pregnancy?

The morning after pill is only used in delaying ovulation immediately after a woman has had unprotected sex. If you have taken the morning after pill after unprotected sex, you should begin using a method of birth control to prevent pregnancy.

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How long can sperm live in a woman's body?

Sperm can survive in a woman's body 72 hours to 5 days. It is helpful to many women to read about fertility awareness to have an understanding of their menstrual cycle and when they might be fertile, and more likely to conceive.

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What are some of the side effects of the pill?

Some of the side effects of the birth control pill are nausea, mood swings, spotting, weight gain, and headaches. Some of these effects can diminish as your body adjusts to the hormone-like drugs; however, you should contact your health care provider if you have any concerns.

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I've started spotting and I'm on the pill. Should I stop taking the pill?

Not necessarily. Spotting mid-cycle while taking birth control pills is a common side effect caused by the hormone-like drugs in the pill. Often the spotting will discontinue after a few months. However, if it does not regulate itself, you may want to check in with your health care provider.

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Why does the pill cause sun spots?

Birth control pills contain hormone-like drugs that can cause sun spots on the skin, which are areas where the skin has darker pigments. These can become permanent.

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Can the Nuvaring enter your cervix?

The Nuvaring, a ring that fits around the cervix that contains hormone-like drugs to prevent pregnancy, cannot enter the cervix or "get lost."

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