Providing access to safe abortion and post-abortion care is at the core of our mission.
I just found out that I am pregnant, what are my options?
You have three options when facing an unplanned pregnancy. You can carry the pregnancy to term and raise a child yourself; you can continue with the pregnancy and place the child for adoption or in foster care or you can choose to have an abortion to terminate the pregnancy. It’s important that you take the time to consider all of your options and discuss the issue with your partner, a friend or a family member (if you feel safe and comfortable doing so). Ultimately the decision of whether or not to continue with the pregnancy should be yours.
What if I want to have an abortion?
If you choose to have an abortion, ensure you choose a safe and legal provider like us, Marie Stopes South Africa, as there are many unsafe, backstreet abortion providers out there. Coming to our centres is easy, you just need to book an appointment online or call us on 0800 11 77 85. Our team will tell you what to expect and let you know what plans to make for the day of your appointment.
What safe abortion options are there?
There are two options available to you which are the Marie Stopes Medical Process i.e the safe abortion pill (4-9 weeks) and the Marie Stopes Surgical Abortion (4-20 weeks).
What if I’m not sure I’m pregnant?
All our centres offer abdominal scans/ultrasounds as well as pregnancy test to confirm if you are pregnant and, if so, the stage of the pregnancy.
At what age is it legal to do abortion?
The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act states that a women can have an abortion at any age- you should never be denied the service because of your age. If you’re young we advise you to chat to a trusted adult (a parent, aunt or teacher) and ask someone to accompany you to the centre for your appointment, but this is not required.
Can I get an abortion at Marie Stopes if I am not from South Africa?
Yes, we can assist women from anywhere in the world. If you are travelling from another country we may not be able to provide you with the option of the Marie Stopes Medical Process as in requires an in-country follow up appointment after 3 weeks.
What will happen during my appointment?
You will have a consultation with a nurse who will explain your options to you. She or he will take your medical history, it is important to be honest and disclose a full history, your confidentiality is assured. She or he will then perform a physical examination, including a vaginal exam to determine the stage of your pregnancy. This may include an abdominal ultrasound/scan. If you are more than 12 weeks pregnant your procedure will need to be performed by a doctor. We may need to book an appointment for you to return on a separate day, depending on the doctor’s availability.
Why do you stop offering abortions at 20 weeks?
The law which governs abortion in South Africa restricts procedures at 20 weeks except in some cases where there is a threat to the woman’s health. Marie Stopes South Africa is only designated to provide abortion services up to 20 weeks.
Safe Abortion Pills vs Surgical Abortion: What are the differences?
Which option is better?
Neither option is better than the other- it’s a question of both personal choice and medical history that will determine the method that is best for you. Some women say they prefer to finish the procedure in one day, others feel that the medical process more suits their lifestyle. A nurse will provide all the details to help you decide during your consultation.
How do I know which option(s) I am eligible for?
On the day of your appointment one of our supportive nurses will offer you a consultation session, including a physical exam. Once the stage of your pregnancy is confirmed you’ll be asked some questions about your medical history- it’s important to provide all of the relevant information requested (i.e. if you have a blood disorder like anemia or deep vein thrombosis).
What if I have had a cesarean section?
Your eligibility for the Marie Stopes Medical Process may be affected by previous pregnancies and deliveries. It will depend on how many cesarean sections you have had and how recently.
What kind of pain management is available?
One of the Marie Stopes staff will be talking to you to comfort you and relieve pain without medication during the procedure. This is called the Vocal Local method. Some of our centres also have an option called conscious sedation which makes you sleep during the procedure.
What is conscious sedation?
Conscious sedation is available at selected Marie Stopes centres. It is a form of anesthetic that allows you to feel sleepy and relax or fall asleep during the procedure. If you decide to opt for sedation its important to let us know when you make your booking so that we schedule you on the appropriate time and date. You will also receive a set of fasting guidelines to follow, so you know when to stop eating and drinking.
When can I have sex again after an abortion?
We advise that you do not have vaginal intercourse or insert anything into your vagina for one week.
Can I fall pregnant after an abortion? How soon after?
You can conceive again as early as one week after an abortion so it’s important to talk to a nurse about a contraceptive method that’s right for you. We have a wide range of contraceptive and family planning methods available for you to choose from.
Do I need to come back to the centre after my process or procedure?
If you opt for the Marie Stopes Procedure you do not need to come back to the centre unless you have a question or would like another service. If you choose the Marie Stopes Medical Process you will need to come for a follow up visit 3 weeks later. Call us on 0800 11 77 85 or make a booking for your follow up.
What if I think I’m still pregnant after the abortion?
In around 1% of medical processes the pregnancy may continue even after taking the medication. If you have continued symptoms of pregnancy such as nausea, vomiting or breast tenderness you should contact our Client Services centre. A positive pregnancy test 2 to 3 weeks after your process began does not indicate a continued pregnancy. This may just be caused by the pregnancy hormones still in your system. If the pregnancy is continuing after the Marie Stopes Medical Process we will perform the Marie Stopes Surgical Procedure at our centre at no cost to you.
When can I travel after my abortion?
You can travel as soon as you feel well enough to after the procedure but we do not recommend the Marie Stopes Medical Process for women who are travelling a significant distance (by air or road).
What if I started an abortion at home or from someone that doesn’t work for Marie Stopes South Africa?
Because we do not have triage facilities if you are already in the process of an abortion we recommend you present yourself at your nearest hospital for treatment. If you have purchased “abortion pills” from someone who is not a designated provider do NOT consume the medication. Call us on 0800 11 77 85 to book a safe abortion.
Contraceptives and Family Planning
We believe that everyone should have the right to choose whether and when to have children, no matter where they live.
What method is the most effective?
I’ve heard contraceptive methods cause weight gain?
What is an IUD?
What is the implant?
Are there some contraceptive methods that I can’t use?
When can I use an emergency contraceptives?
Can’t I just use the morning after pill every time I have sex?
HIV & STI
We offer a range of HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) treatment services across South Africa.
How do you do the HIV testing and STI screening?
Testing for HIV and STIs may include a urine sample, pap smear and/or a blood test.
What is the difference between the lab and rapid test options?
At Marie Stopes we have two ways to test for HIV and some STIs: a rapid test (with results while you wait) or a laboratory test (with results that take about 5 days to process).
How do I know if I have an STI?
You will NOT always know that you have an infection, often symptoms can be missed or mistaken and sometimes you may show no symptoms at all. Everyone who has sex is at risk of an STI and should be tested regularly. You should be tested if you have: • Unusual genital/anal discharge • Genital sores, growths or lumps • Pain when passing urine • Painful sex or bleeding after sex • Pain in the lower abdomen • Genital pain • Irregular bleeding between periods Symptoms of an STI may come and go; this does not mean that the infection is cured. Also, having one STI can make you more vulnerable to others. Be tested regularly. The risks of leaving an STI untreated can vary from pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, infertility in both men and women and even chronic debilitating secondary infections. Book an appointment at your nearest Marie Stopes HIV testing centre.
What STIs are there and how are they passed on?
Common STIs include: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, syphilis, hepatitis A, B and C. The most common way STIs are transmitted is through vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom. Some STIs (like genital warts) can be transmitted from skin to skin contact during sex. Bacteria and viruses that cause STIs can be found in semen (sperm), vaginal and anal fluids, breast milk and blood (including mouth sores) and are passed on through: sexual intercourse, direct contact with infected blood, needle stick injuries or from mother to child during breastfeeding. The most common areas of the body infected are the genitals, anal area, mouth and throat. At Marie Stopes women can also be tested for common vaginal infections such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis and receive pap smears which test for precancerous cervical cells and the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Why is it important to test regularly for HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. People who have the virus are HIV positive and capable of passing the virus on to their sexual partners, through blood-to-blood contact or mother to child during delivery and breastfeeding. HIV weakens the immune system, which affects the body’s ability to fight common illnesses and to stay strong and healthy. It can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome for which there is currently no cure. Selected Marie Stopes centres also provide CD4 count services to clients who have tested positive for HIV. Make an online booking or call us on 0800 11 77 85.
A pap smear can detect sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as early signs of cervical cancer.
When and how often should I have a pap smear?
The South African HPV Advisory Board recommend that a woman begin having pap smears when she becomes sexually active or turns 21 each year until the age of 30 and then every 3 years after the age of 30. Get in touch for a pap smear cost estimate.
Why do I need a pap smear?
The test looks for changes in the cells of your cervix. Changes happen very slowly but can lead to serious problems like cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the number one killer of South African women. Often, there are no symptoms, until the condition is at an advanced stage. If abnormal cells are noticed at screening, they can be closely observed and/or treated to prevent cancer from developing. Regular screening has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer by 90%. Many women feel nervous about having a pap smear test, yet regular screening has saved thousands of lives by discovering problems before they become serious.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
The sample taken during your pap smear can also be used to test for HPV. HPV is a common viral infection, which can be passed on during sex. It can show up in the cells of your cervix and sometimes causes an abnormal or unclear smear test result. There are many different types of HPV, some of which have been linked to cervical cancer. The test can spot HPV even before changes can be seen on the cervix. This means women at risk of cervical cancer can be identified much earlier and their health can be monitored closely.
When should I make a pap smear appointment?
You cannot be screened during your period, so the best time to make your appointment is roughly two weeks after the first day of your period (between days 10 and 16 of your monthly cycle).
How is a pap smear taken?
The nurse will ask you to lie back and will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina, so she can view your cervix. A brush or spatula is used to take a sample of cells from just inside the opening of your cervix.
Does a pap smear hurt?
How is the sample tested?
What if the results are irregular?
Any change in the cells of your cervix usually happen very slowly so there is no need to panic if your results come back as irregular. Our staff can give you a full explanation of what the test results show, and advise you on what to do next. If your results show cell changes, we may recommend that you have another smear test after a period of time or refer you to the appropriate medical specialist for further examination.
We offer a range of services designed especially for men, including vasectomies and health checks.
What are the benefits?
- No unwanted pregnancy
- No need to use another method of contraception
What are the limitations?
- It is a permanent method
- 1 in 2000 lifetime risk of pregnancy
- There is no protection against sexually transmitted infections, therefore a condom must be used to prevent the spread thereof
What are the criteria for male sterilisation at a Marie Stopes clinic?
- Age 18 years and older
- Not obese
- Healthy male
What can a man do to prevent pregnancy until he is sterilized?
- Use a condom every time he has sexual intercourse.
- Together with his partner consult a health professional regarding an appropriate contraceptive method for his female partner in the interim.
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