Are There Any Safe Home Abortion Methods?

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  • Originally Written By: Dorothy Bland
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 February 2019
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Although various home abortion methods are practiced by women of most every culture, their safety is often a matter of great controversy. In most cases, the human body is evolutionarily designed to hold on to pregnancy as long as possible in order to support the next generation, and home remedies usually need to be pretty strong to counter this. Use of concentrated herbal stimulants is one of the more popular options, though even herbs claiming to be “all natural” can have some serious side effects. Certain pharmaceutical drugs can also induce abortions at home, and women for centuries have tried a number of semi-surgical procedures. In nearly all cases, though, these cannot be considered “safe” unless done under the supervision of a trained medical professional. The side effects and potential risks can be life-threatening if things go wrong.

Herbal Stimulants

Herbal abortifacients, substances thought to be able to stimulate a miscarriage and end a pregnancy, have a long historical use as an alternative abortion option. Herbalists often claim that a number of different plants have this ability, including aloe, bitter apple, and ginger. Many women combine these herbs with emmenagogues, which are drugs that can induce menstruation and increase the chances of miscarrying.

Usually women will create a tea infusion to stimulate abortion, often in addition to placing herbs directly into their vaginas. Parsley is a common choice. This herb is frequently used in cooking and is also thought to be a mild emmenagogue, stimulating menstruation and contractions in the uterus. Taken as a tea, the herb is often combined with high doses of ascorbic acid, or vitamin C; the ascorbic acid is thought to increase estrogen levels and lead to a miscarriage. The mixture is usually drunk several times a day for several days until regular menstruation begins.

Toxicity Concerns

Even though many herbal abortifacients and emmenagogues can be purchased with little effort over the counter, this by no means ensures that they are safe or effective, in part because the concentrations needed to end pregnancy can have serious side effects for the woman. Many of these natural herbs are considered toxic when taken at high enough levels to stimulate abortion. In fact, such herbs may not actually be stimulating abortion so much as flooding the body with such high levels of poison that the pregnancy cannot be maintained.

Blue cohosh is a good example. This flowering herb is found naturally only in North America and has been in use since at least the 1800s for a variety of health reasons. A number of modern studies have found the plant to be toxic, however. One of the safety concerns is that it could reduce the ability of the heart to pump blood.

Another herb often associated with alternative herbal abortion techniques is pennyroyal. Women attempting at-home abortions have reportedly used both the oil and the leaves of this emmenagogue plant, though most medical practitioners agree that it is unsafe for all uses and can cause liver damage. Additionally, consumption of the concentrated oil may be lethal even when taken in small doses.

Other Side Effects

A number of other herbs popularly used for home abortions are also believed to be capable of causing an extensive range of serious side effects, including damage to the kidneys, excessive bleeding, or death. The risk of complications increases for women who have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Use of other over-the-counter or prescription drugs can also affect the potency of these herbal remedies and further increase the risk of serious harm. If abortion is successful, severe cramps and heavy bleeding are also likely to occur.

Pharmaceutical Options

A number of home abortion methods center on pharmaceutical drugs. Women will either try to create their own cocktail of over-the-counter pills in order to stimulate contractions and menstruation or they will seek out specific abortifacients. The most effective and usually also safest of these are typically only available with a prescription, and they work by delivering calculated amounts of hormones to trigger a miscarriage. These aren’t legal in all countries, and even where they are they usually have to be taken within a certain number of weeks of conception in order to be effective. In addition, they usually have a number of relatively strict dosing requirements that have to be met exactly.

Risks and Precautions

By far the riskiest home abortion methods are those in which women attempt to surgically or semi-surgically remove the developing fetus. In the absence of medical training, these sorts of procedures often end very badly. Even if abortions are successful, women have an increased risk of hemorrhage and infection, both of which can be life-threatening.

The safety of nearly all at-home abortion methods remains unconfirmed by modern science and is mainly based on anecdotal evidence. The possibility that women could inadvertently do permanent damage to their bodies is one indication that these methods are not safe to try. It’s also important to note that many at-home abortion practices may be illegal, even in jurisdictions where medical abortion is otherwise legal.

Discuss this Article

Post 16

"No matter what the circumstances, to be a mother is an awesome thing."

For a lot of women, it definitely is not. For some women just the idea of having a baby feels like the end of the world. And by the way, some people cannot stand babies.

Post 15

This may come as a shock to a lot of people who didn't have comprehensive health classes but sometimes, you can use contraceptives and still get pregnant! I know, it's shocking!

Post 14

If you have to look up ways to bring on an abortion, maybe that's a good indication that you should keep your legs closed. Nothing justifies this. The lady who said she's living in a family and she would be out on her own if she gets pregnant, why have unprotected sex if that's the case?

Use your brains ladies. There is so much available to prevent pregnancy -- female and male contraceptives. Use both. Condoms aren't expensive and most female contraceptives are cheap, and most are even free. Don't have unprotected sex with men you wouldn't want ties to, if you were to get pregnant. Simple really.

Post 13

Yes, there are side effects of doing this but in modern medicine, there are side effects for everything you do and take. All prescription meds have a list of side effects longer than the list of issues they're supposed to help.

It's a woman's choice to do what she will with her body and as long as she's educated on the process she's choosing to attempt, I don't see the issue with it. It's not much different than someone choosing to ride a motorcycle or engage in a high risk sports. Educate yourselves and make your own decisions.

Post 9

I happened upon this post while researching how to make a daily healthy herbal infusion. How surprised I was to read that since ancient times women have sought to terminate pregnancy in secret at home using these poisons.

I feel badly that this information is up. Women, you could endanger your health if you try these techniques. Second and more important, I feel badly because at this stage in my life, all my friends are having babies and I envy them. They are all happier, better women. No matter what the circumstances, to be a mother is an awesome thing.

Post 8

Is parsley still effective after one and a half months of pregnancy?

Post 7

I recently tried this and it worked like a miracle! I don't mean to sound cheesy but I'm still in shock! I had unprotected sex in early October after ovulation and wasn't supposed to get my next period until mid-November or so.

About a week after, I experienced pregnancy symptoms. (It takes like six or seven days for the egg to get fertilized, I think, so it clicked in my mind). My breasts hurt and I stopped craving nicotine, and suddenly I liked foods I had previously had a distaste for. I freaked out immediately.

I'm young, and in my family, if I were to get knocked up, I would be all on my own. It would ruin my life

plans that I have for myself. So I surfed the internet, looking for safe and natural ways to possibly prevent this, or stop this, or get rid of it. I was a nervous wreck. I found this site, and bought some regular vitamin C, and tons and tons of parsley.

I made about six mugs of parsley tea the first day, and about three the next. Both days I took 6000-7000mgs (6-7 grams) of the vitamin C each day. I went to school this morning, and almost halfway through the day, Bam! Mother Nature surprised me, in an overwhelming way.

My cramps are awful, and my flow is extremely heavy right now. But to be honest, all I can do is smile and be excited because I'm not a baby mama, and I didn't resort to hurting myself! Best of luck to any other women visiting this site.

Post 5

Here’s my situation.

I woke up a few days ago after having really weird, mad dreams. A few days prior, I had been feeling restless, so I was anticipating my monthly was due. I had a sore chest and back aches. You know what I mean. My dates are normally bang on and never late. I went into work, and during lunch break popped into my local chemist and thought, “Body acting weird. Pregnancy test.” I opted for the clear blue – the digital one and discreetly followed the instructions. I watched the timer going round and round. It felt like years passed. Then, with shock and horror, I saw I was pregnant – about two or three weeks

. I knew I had unprotected sex in early August, but thought I wouldn’t get pregnant!

I normally eat really healthy, like an apple or toast for breakfast, feta cheese salad for lunch and a healthy meal in the evening. But again, for the last 72 hours, my body was just all over the place.

So there I was at work, thinking I’m pregnant! This was totally not the right time. I’m career-minded, very financially independent and well come out of a divorce -- not good. I booked myself in for a self-referral termination, which I would never suggest for anyone to do. But it is up to the individual. I went in there on my own and it was very daunting. There were religious people outside protesting the whole process. I am the sort of person who will not even take headache pills, let alone go this route! I don’t have any children and am in my mid 30s.

I had a scan done, but nothing showed up. The girl did three pregnancy tests which were all positive. But remember, this was really, really early!

I went home after a two-hour process and made the relevant choices for termination. I was due to have it two weeks thereafter.

I just pottered about at home, then I thought about looking it up on the Internet and came across a website that suggested parsley tea. Parsley. It’s midnight. Where can I go and get parsley from? Then I remembered I had some chopped flat leaf parsley in the freezer. I just got a handful of chopped, frozen parsley in a soup bowl and poured kettle water into it and drank it. I repeated the process three times and read a little. My mind was all over the place.

The following morning. I saw some pinkish spotting, but not enough to think the parsley worked. So, I drank some more of the tea and within an hour, my bleeding increased. I wasn’t having many cramps, but felt like I was on my period. I got major headaches and felt sick. I put it purely down to the hormones and the excessive amount of parsley tea I was consuming.

It did work. I still continued to drink the parsley tea, just ensuring I put some more parsley into the mug/bowl, and carried on. Within 24 hours, blood and clots passed through. I drank a couple of mugs a couple of days ago and some yesterday. My bleeding has stopped and the pregnancy test shows negative. My chest is back to normal and well, I’m still going in for relevant tests/check ups to ensure that everything is OK.

In my head, I was a week late, not three weeks and not three months. So this process suited me. It was emotionally stressful because I really couldn’t tell my friends or talk to anyone.

So to sum things up. I would not recommend anyone doing this at a later stage of pregnancy, but I knew that this was only for assisting a late period as it opens up the uterus. But it does work. My body is back to normal and my pregnancy test shows negative.

I am really, really upset that these forums are up and people have access to this information and will attempt to try this. It could potentially harm their own bodies. We should all be responsible for our actions, etc. On the flip side of things, I do not know if I could have coped through the whole medical process as it would have really messed me up mentally. I have treated this since I was just a few days late and wanted to kickstart my period.

Post 4

@BrickBack -That is a good point and I do think that educating women and offering more cost effective birth control options would help.

I have to think that having multiple abortions can harm a women and possibly alter her chances of conceiving a child later on in life.

This happened to a girl that I knew in high school. She had two abortions and when she got older was unable to have children. I don’t know if the situation was related because I am not a doctor but I have to think that it might have been.

Post 3

@Cafe41 - I know what you mean but maybe some women don’t know where to turn. I think that making birth control more readily available might help to reduce the instances of abortion.

For example, an IUD can last for anywhere from five to ten years depending on the type and if women could have this covered by her insurance company it would be fantastic because currently most insurance companies will not cover this form of birth control.

These women would then have years of protection from pregnancy. It is also more cost effective than birth control pills.

It is just a thought because I know that many of the women that chose to make this decision did not make the decision lightly. At least this type of birth control can help them avoid this issue altogether.

Post 2

@Mutsy - I agree with you and I feel that abortion clinics should provide mandatory counseling for their patients considering this procedure because it is not just a physical operation it is also a psychological issue as well.

Well some women go on with their lives with no regrets, while many are always second guessing the decision. I think that sometimes our society does not value life which hurts society as a whole.

The other day I was reading that about abortion statistics in New York City. About 64% of women carrying fetuses in New York City decided to have abortions instead.

I know that this is a very individual decision that a women must make, but these abortion facts are really shocking. I didn’t realize that that many abortions were taking place.

Post 1

I think that the abortion procedure is one that should be taken with a lot of thought. I don’t know of any at home abortion remedies that are safe. I know that there is the abortion pill that will terminate a pregnancy in its first trimester, but I do think that anyone facing this dilemma should really think about the implications of their decision to have an abortion procedure.

Many women experience depression and regret after having this procedure and are never the same. I hope that anyone considering having the procedure consider all available options so that once you make your decision you can feel that you made the best decision that you could have possibly made.

Just remember that seven weeks into a pregnancy you can hear the fetal heartbeat. It is just something to consider.

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