This is a great question, and one that we get asked often especially with the increased accessibility to the abortion pill.
There are 3 big reasons why having an ultrasound before an abortion is so important, especially for the health and safety of the woman.
Those three reasons are:
1. To determine the location of the embryo-
a. The first reason you need to have an ultrasound done is to check to see if the embryo is in the uterus where it should be. If the embryo were to attach outside of the uterus it would be called an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies can be in the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, or even the cervix and are extremely dangerous to the woman and can be life-threatening if not detected. Having an ultrasound performed is the only way to determine the location of the pregnancy and to ensure that the pregnancy is not ectopic. This is important because an abortion pill will not end an ectopic pregnancy.
2. To determine viability-
a. Another reason for having an ultrasound completed prior to abortion is to determine if the pregnancy is viable. That is, does the embryo have a heartbeat? This is important to know because if the pregnancy is not viable the decision on whether or not to abort won’t need to be made.
3. To date the pregnancy-
a. It is very important to know how far along you are in the pregnancy to determine the type of abortion that you can receive. The type of abortion changes after 11 weeks from a medical abortion (the abortion pill) to a surgical abortion to end the pregnancy. Basing the decision on LMP (last menstrual period) alone is not the best determinant of this because not all women have regular cycles and can ovulate at different points within that cycle. Outside factors such as stress, birth control, and sleep deprivation can even alter when you ovulate. This could mean that you are further along or earlier than you think. The best way to clarify this is through an ultrasound where we can get a more definite measurement.
I hope that this has answered some of the questions that you may have had. If you have any others or are interested in scheduling an appointment for a Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound, please feel free to call or text us at 336-629-9988. We would love to help you in anyway that we can.