An Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy and the expulsion of some or all of the material of conception, before the fetus is viable (can live independently in the outside world).
There are several types of abortion, but they are mainly divided into two types – spontaneous abortion and induced abortion.
A spontaneous abortion is one that occurs spontaneously. Most often, this is known as a miscarriage. Spontaneous abortions happen on their own, without any outside help.
Here, the life of the fetus is compromised and this may lead to all the signs of a preterm labor – the dilatation of the cervix and the expulsion of the fetus. In all the cases, the fetus is nonviable and dies. The following are the types of spontaneous abortions:
There is vaginal bleeding like in the case of the threatened abortion, but this is accompanied by abdominal cramping and pain, and the cervix is dilated. Abortion is inevitable, and hence the name.
The characteristics are the same as the inevitable abortion, in that there is vaginal bleeding, cramping, dilation of the cervix and associated passage of parts of the product of conception.
This type of abortion occurs before the 20th week. Here, the pregnancy is complicated and threatened with bleeding.
The cervix does not open and in half the cases, the pregnancy is lost. However, in the other half of the cases, with proper rest and care, the pregnancy can be saved.
Here, the product of pregnancy is completely passed out of the body, after which there is a cessation of bleeding and the cervix closes up completely. A pregnancy test would show a negative result. The abortion is complete.
In this type of spontaneous abortion, the fetus dies but is not expelled by the body. If this happens after the 16th week, then a medical procedure such as a D&C (dilatation and curettage) becomes difficult.
This is a history of three or more consecutive abortions. The reasons for this are many and range from genetic anomalies to infections.
An induced abortion is one that is purposely induced to end the life of the fetus. The following are the types of spontaneous abortions:
The cervix is dilated and the fetus is sucked out wholly and completely.
Dilatation and Curettage (D&C)
A curette, which is a loop-shaped knife, is used to scrape out the fetus from the uterus.
Dilatation And Evacuation (D&E)
Used between the 13th and 20th week, the fetus is dismembered and its head crushed before being evacuated.
Here, a concentrated solution of salt and water is injected into the amniotic sac, which leads to the death of the baby. However, it is not uncommon for a baby to survive this and be born alive. Even if the baby is born alive, it will succumb within a few hours.
This is performed around the 16th week. An ultrasound is used to locate the fetal heart. A liquid is then injected into the heart, thereby creating a cardiac arrest.
This is usually done in the case of multiple pregnancies, where one fetus is nonviable and has to be terminated in order to give the other fetus/fetuses a chance to survive.