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The term “abortion” refers to removing or evacuating an embryo or fetus to end a pregnancy. Miscarriages, also known as “spontaneous abortions,” are abortions that take place without medical intervention and affect thirty to forty percent of pregnancies. Abortion’s psychological repercussions have been the focus of decades of scientific research and international public discussion, leading to much debate and controversy. From a health policy perspective, it is crucial to concentrate attention on women and the major public health implications that come from it, as Millar (2020) suggested. The paper will focus more on the psychological effects of abortion in addition to the physiological ones, which occasionally occur years after the treatment. Medical and illegal abortion both have pronounced physical, social, and psychological consequences. Identifying the types and common psychological side effects of abortion among those seeking post-abortion treatment was the study’s objective. Abortion is accompanied by negative psychological consequences such as depression, grief, anxiety, and post-traumatic distress.
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Psychological Consequences of Pregnancy Termination
A woman may experience an existential crisis throughout pregnancy, even a healthy one, which exacerbates internal issues. Pregnancy is a unique experience for women and is affected by various cultural, social, psychological, and emotional elements (Millar, 2020). Pregnancy can put women under extra emotional strain, which can sometimes lead to the development of stress.
Specific issues, such as prenatal defects or infertility, may make pregnancy undesirable; abortion is necessary due to pregnancy-related difficulties. Studies on the psychological effects of termination have produced conflicting findings. Abortion experiences might result in the emergence of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and interpersonal relationship issues. There are two types of disorders concerning post-abortion complications: post-abortion distress and post-abortion syndrome (Millar, 2020). Post-abortion distress is defined as a condition that involves having severe post-abortion trauma. It starts to show up three months after the abortion and could last for a year. Its symptoms include feeling depressed, guilty, or hopeless; having trouble sleeping; and having psychological pain. Instead, the post-abortion syndrome is a chronic condition that occasionally arises repeatedly or develops over a long period after the abortion.
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The Impact on Couple Relationships and Sexuality
According to Biggs (2020), a study looking at changes in the quality of life of those choosing to terminate their pregnancies demonstrated how a previous relationship’s demise harmed its subsequent one. The base between partners has also increased, according to women who have had abortions in their current relationships. Research shows that because of psychological traits like egocentrism, those who choose to terminate a pregnancy are more likely to be in an unstable relationship and emotionally unstable. Women who had abortions later reported a variety of sexual dysfunctions regarding desire, frequency of interaction, capacity for orgasm, and sexual satisfaction. Couples who have lost a child or fetus did not disclose sexual dysfunctions. However, women acknowledged a sexual dysfunction, declaring a decreased interest in sex since it made them think of how their deceased kid was conceived.
Adair (2022) states that most research has attempted to identify the negative consequences of abortion; a small number of studies have reported positive outcomes. This article mentions an early investigation into teen pregnancies that contrasted women who chose to keep their pregnancies going with others who did not. Only a small percentage of those who chose abortion experienced unfavorable psychological effects. However, most individuals who decided to become parents stated they did not regret it because they felt the weight of having a child, ended the pregnancy and frequently acknowledged harboring hatred towards the child. Most women claimed that having an abortion had “more benefit than harm” (Millar, 2020).
In conclusion, the psychological effects of abortion have received little attention. However, in addition to physical and social effects, abortion has distinctive psychological side effects. Therefore, individuals are advised to talk with their doctor to ensure they understand all possible side effects.
- Adair, L., & Lozano, N. (2022). Adaptive choice: Psychological perspectives on abortion and reproductive freedom. Women’s Reproductive Health, 9(1), 1-26.
- Biggs, M. A., Brown, K., & Foster, D. G. (2020). Perceived abortion stigma and psychological well-being over five years after receiving or being denied an abortion. PloS one, 15(1), e0226417.
- Millar, E. (2020, January). Abortion stigma as a social process. Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 78, 102328. Pergamon.