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Emotional and psychological impact of abortion: A gynaecologist breaks it down

Emotional and psychological impact of abortion: A gynaecologist breaks it down

Undergoing an abortion can be one of the most challenging and painful aspects of a woman’s life. There are numerous reasons which predispose women to undergo such arduous bearings in their day-to-day life, ranging from contraceptive failures to undergoing illegal abortions after female sex determination, to being forced to abort an abnormally developing baby. Most of these are highly under-reported due to a huge social stigma attached to it. All these definitely have a great impact on their physical, mental and social well-being.

It is vital to highlight the emotional and psychological aspects of undergoing an abortion. Everyone needs to collectively contribute to ensuring women experience a safe, secure and well-supported abortion in India.

Abortions are common in India

Recent studies say that over two-thirds of the abortions in India are unsafe and widely prevalent in rural India especially across the states of Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand, and Orissa, with most women being coerced into it after female sex determination. The sad state of affairs is probably due to:

  • Poor socioeconomic and demographic characteristics
  • Indigent health-seeking behaviour
  • Poor sex practices among our youth
  • Lack of literacy about safe family planning measures
  • Endless age-old Indian tradition of wanting a male child

All of these factors can put an Indian woman’s health at utmost risk.

Also Read: Here’s everything you need to know about getting an abortion in India

depression after abortion
Abortion can take a toll on a woman’s mental health. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Younger generation is at a higher risk of getting abortions

Young teenage girls between 15-19 years of age are at higher risk of facing these abortion-related complications. Several factors such as early sexual debut, poor sex practices, and lack of awareness about contraception are some of the factors that predispose young girls to having a forceful abortion. Despite abortion being legal (under various circumstances), the high estimated prevalence of unsafe abortion is a major public health problem in India. Socioeconomic vulnerability and poor access to healthcare services together leave large numbers of women at risk of unsafe abortion and abortion-related death in India.

Therapy is necessary post abortion

The entire pregnancy event leading to an abortion creates an emotional and mental menace in a woman’s life. Any woman of reproductive age group undergoing an abortion, is prone to huge psychological distress, feeling of guilt and regret, low self-esteem, nightmares, feeling of having failed to be a mother, and the constant thought – ‘will I ever become a mother?’. To add to her misery, there is a huge gap in the availability of psychological help and counselling in our current social system.

All a woman needs at this crucial and challenging stage is TLC – Tender Love and Care. This requires therapeutic lifestyle changes which include:

  • Eating a healthy diet and nutrition
  • Good exercise regimes including yoga and meditation techniques
  • Relationship and social support from spouse, family and friends, Relaxation and stress management
  • Religious and spiritual involvement
  • Positive and valuable counselling sessions by our mental health care workers.

All these in totality can help women emerge stronger and healthier, from such a difficult and challenging phase of life.

Also Read: So, your condom broke. This is how you can prevent an unplanned pregnancy

Know why therapy is a must after getting an abortion. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Stop believing these abortion myths for the sake of your mental health

Myth: “I cannot become a mother again”

Fact: Just after undergoing an abortion, it’s natural for every woman to feel incapable and unfit to be a mother. It’s very important for young ladies to understand that with good social and mental support, and valuable guidance from your gynaecologists, counsellors, therapists and psychiatrists, you can become a mother again. All you need is to seek medical help, at the right time and get detailed pre-conceptional counselling sessions before embarking on your next pregnancy.

Myth: “I should not exercise after an abortion”

Fact: Your body requires a healthy diet rich in proteins, fruits, and vitamin supplements post-abortion. A balanced exercise regime in the form of yoga, meditation, aerobics, pilates, long brisk walks, or cycling for about 30-45 minutes each day is also important. You should exercise at least 5 days a week, which you can start whenever you feel comfortable, ready and physically strong enough. Your body requires about 2-3 months to recover before you plan another pregnancy.

Also Read: Exercise care and caution after an abortion. Follow these tips

It is important to fully inculcate a healthy physical and mental lifestyle as a part of our daily routine. Taking a few reasonable and rational lifestyle measures can help you emerge stronger and healthier, from difficult yet common life situations.

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