You think you might be pregnant, but you’re not sure. You just know that you don’t want to be. Detecting an unwanted pregnancy early can increase your access to safe services, and can lead to abortions that are safer and more comfortable. So how can you detect pregnancy early, and what are your immediate next steps? Let’s discuss together.
Early Signs Of Pregnancy
We’ll cut right to it—the earliest and most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period. If you’ve had unprotected sex and later notice that your menstrual period is delayed, there is good reason to be concerned about pregnancy.
There are other signs of early pregnancy as well, but they vary significantly between women and are typically common symptoms that can be associated with a whole range of possible causes. These symptoms include nausea, headache, fatigue, bloating, and swollen, tender breasts. While these symptoms may verify a pregnancy, they should not be used alone to diagnose pregnancy.
If you suspect that you are pregnant, try using an at-home urine pregnancy test. These tests are usually affordable, readily available at drug stores, and provide results quickly and privately. Most pregnancy tests can be used as early as the first day of your expected menstrual period.
Terminating An Early Pregnancy
Medical abortion, or an abortion with pills, is one of the safest and most effective ways to terminate a pregnancy. In fact, medical abortion is increasingly becoming a preferred form of abortion in early pregnancy.
Many medical abortion protocols are designed for use within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. These protocols typically involve 12 pills of misoprostol, or 1 pill of mifepristone used in addition to 4 pills of misoprostol. To read about how these pills are used safely, visit the instructions page of our website.
If women are more than 10 weeks pregnant, they should speak with a trusted provider who is trained specifically to support medical abortions after 10 weeks. These terminations will usually require a different number of pills and/or a different method of administration.
Resources Near You
Every country has its own set of laws surrounding abortion. Some countries offer safe abortion care to women only within a pre-determined window of time.
For example, in South Africa elective abortion is available to women through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. After 12 weeks, women need to qualify with certain conditions in order to have a legal abortion. Elective abortions in the Netherlands, in comparison, are available to women within the first 21 weeks of pregnancy.
Generally speaking, the earlier that a woman seeks an abortion in a country where abortion is offered legally, the more safe options she will have. To read more about abortion policies in your country, and to connect with safe and trusted resources, visit our Regions and Partnership page for a list of country profiles.
A medical abortion at home has been shown to be a safe option for women shown to be a safe option for women within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. However, it’s critical that these women are using trusted medical abortion instructions. Visit our website to learn more about safe medical abortion at home—including what to know beforehand and what to expect afterwards.
Our team is also here to connect you with safe resources and reliable information. If you have a question about medical abortion, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay connected with us on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Claire is a teacher, reproductive rights advocate, and the manager of www.HowToUseAbortionPill.org