Termination of pregnancy is the removal or expulsion of an embryo/foetus along with residual foetal tissues remaining after miscarriage and afterbirth tissues. A person might decide to abort the pregnancy for various reasons, such as mental health and financial reasons, but sometimes abortion becomes necessary due to medical reasons.
For instance, If the unborn foetus is diagnosed with incurable diseases, incurable genetic and physical disabilities, or the pregnant individual’s health might be at risk, Pregnancy termination for medical reasons (TFMR) becomes necessary.
This article will give you a detailed pregnancy complications list of all the different medical conditions that may require the termination of pregnancy. It is quite important to know as well as understand such medical reasons for abortion before they grow severe and get in the way of a healthy life.
A] Medical Conditions That May Require Termination Of Pregnancy
1. Ectopic Pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy refers to the condition when the fertilised egg does not implant properly in the uterus. In such cases, the fertilised egg might stick to the ovary or fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies are fatal to the pregnant person if not treated properly and in time. If an ectopic pregnancy is not treated in time, the foetus might keep growing outside the womb which can cause fractures in the bone, make blood vessel bursts, and cause punctures in the organ tissues. These injuries, if left untreated, can have serious consequences for the pregnant person’s health, including potentially life-threatening bleeding.
As ectopic pregnancy does not occur in the uterus, termination of ectopic pregnancy is not classified as an abortion and is treated differently. If the foetus has not developed much, the doctors can recommend medicine. For example, healthcare providers may prescribe a dose of methotrexate which stops the cells from growing and allows the body to reabsorb the foetus. However, surgery becomes a necessary choice if the patient has incurred ruptures.
2. Molar Pregnancy
Molar pregnancies are a rare gestational trophoblastic disorder. Gestational trophoblastic disease, or GTD, causes small non-cancerous tumours to form in the womb that looks similar to an ovarian cyst. A molar pregnancy occurs when the egg and the sperm create a non-cancerous tumour during fertilisation and fails to create a placenta. A placenta is an important organ that is formed during pregnancy, which helps to carry nutrients from the parent’s body to the foetus. In such cases, the pregnancy ends prematurely as there is no way for the foetus to get nutrients and develop.
If the molar pregnancy is not treated in time via health-related abortion, the miscarriage can cause various complications during pregnancy. Most individuals who get the proper treatment and care in time can go on to live a healthy life and can also conceive a healthy pregnancy in the future. Some of the early symptoms to recognise molar pregnancy are nausea and vomiting, vaginal bleeding, high blood pressure, anaemia, swelling and high HCG levels.
3. Chromosomal Abnormalities
As the name suggests, chromosomal abnormalities are any deviations in the chromosomes that a child might have. The abnormality can be passed down to the foetus from either parent or both, or the foetus can develop an abnormality on its own due to various external factors. Chromosomal abnormalities are classified under two sections, namely numerical and structural.
A numerical abnormality occurs when there are excess or deficiency of chromosomes. If one chromosome is missing from the pair, it is called Monosomy. On the other hand, if there are three chromosomes instead of two, it is called Trisomy.
Structural abnormalities occur when there is an issue in the structure of chromosomes. This can happen when one chromosome is either completely or partially deleted, copied to form a third pair, chromosome tears and breaks, or is inverted. The old age of parents, exposure to certain chemicals and environmental factors are some of the causes of chromosomal abnormalities.
4. Maternal Medical Conditions
The expectant parent might have some medical conditions which could prove harmful to not just the newborn child but also the parent. Such medical conditions can range from fractures, ruptures and punctures in the bones, tissues and blood vessels to infections, and genetic and physical diseases. In such cases, medical termination of pregnancy is recommended to minimise health complications.
Some of the common maternal health disorders which would require medical termination of pregnancy are HIV/AIDS and diabetes. Pregnant mothers with type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes and high blood sugar are at risk of birth defects, stillbirth, and preterm birth. While Mothers with HIV risk transmitting the virus to the newborn, which can reduce the life expectancy of the newborn. However, a simple HIV and Diabetes check at the time of fertility health check is enough to diagnose and implement proper treatment.
5. Foetal Abnormalities
When doctors conduct prenatal pregnancy tests such as blood work and ultrasound during the first trimester, they can find a few serious abnormalities in the foetus. Some of the common examples of foetal abnormalities are children being born without skulls, brains, or other organs, unusually short or long bones, and punctures in the heart, kidneys and liver. Such abnormalities can drastically affect the quality of life of the child being born and in most cases, the baby does not survive for more than a couple of years.
Under such circumstances, early pregnancy abortion for medical reasons is the best course of action for the mother as well as the unborn baby. Medical termination of pregnancy can be life-saving for the parent and the foetus. Foetal abnormalities become visible during 7 to 9 weeks of pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is a medical condition that occurs during pregnancy, generally near twenty weeks and can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage, and other organ damage. Some common symptoms of preeclampsia are lower blood palate, high levels of protein in the urine, swelling, shortness of breath, headaches and spotted or blurred vision. If you are facing such symptoms during or after twenty weeks of pregnancy, you should see a doctor at the earliest.
Patients with preeclampsia are at risk of seizure, stroke, heart attack and organ failure in kidneys or livers. In such cases, the safest course of action is to opt for abortion for maternal health via a medical professional.
First-time mothers who have a history of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity or a family history of preeclampsia are more prone to preeclampsia. Individuals who have no history of blood pressure might also develop hypertension, which brings us to our next point.
7. Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is a medical condition which is induced due to very high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries of the lungs and heart. This puts extreme pressure on the blood vessels of the heart, lungs as well as entire body. This is a dangerous condition to have during pregnancy, as the heart has to pump blood twice as hard to provide proper nutrition to the growing foetus, and hypertension requires the heart to pump even harder.
Pulmonary hypertension can cause stroke, heartaches and even heart failure leading to premature deaths of the pregnant individual. Under such conditions, a doctor might try to treat high blood pressure with medicines to keep it under control. However, if that does not work out, abortion for medical cause is the safest and sometimes the only option.
Cancer might not directly impact the pregnancy but it can cause several adverse effects on the health and wellness of the patient. Even though the treatment for cancer for pregnant people has improved a lot over the decades, still there are many risks associated with cancer treatment during pregnancy. Hence, in order to pursue the necessary cancer treatment without any health complications for the parent and the foetus, termination of pregnancy is recommended before the treatment begins.
According to experts, if the patient does not get the proper medical abortion facilities before undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, there can be numerous serious health complications for the parent and the child, within 1 to 2 years of birth. These can include a return of tumours and genetic & physical defects in the child. The child could also be stillborn and have a short life expectancy.
9. Severe Kidney Disease
Severe kidney diseases can greatly affect a pregnant person’s health and can hold them back from having a healthy pregnancy. Pregnancy takes a toll on the entire body of the pregnant person, and hence, the kidneys are also put under a lot of stress during pregnancy. In such conditions, if the person is also suffering from chronic kidney disease, it could lead to complications during pregnancy, kidney failure, reduced expansion of plasma volume, deficiency of vitamin D and also affect the newborn child’s health.
Diabetes and blood pressure are monitored closely by medical professionals in pregnant people who are diagnosed with severe chronic kidney diseases. This is due to the fact that diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the most common causes of kidney disorders. Abortion due to health complications is often suggested to avoid stillbirths, preterm births and miscarriages.
Severe illnesses, diseases and disorders can negatively impact the health of the foetus, and the pregnant parent. In such conditions, the parent(s) must consult an expert medical professional at the earliest. It is important to not only know but also understand the severity, complications, treatments and alternatives for the patient to make an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy.
You should discuss such conditions with your doctor during your first gyno visit after being aware of your medical conditions that may require termination of pregnancy. This will help you be aware and understand the problems and consequences of such conditions. With proper preventive care, you can have a normal healthy pregnancy without any complications.
If you have more questions about these medical conditions and abortion, you can refer to our comprehensive list of abortion FAQs.
If you want to know more about the medical conditions and termination procedures in detail, contact our expert private gynaecologist at a reputed Well Women’s Clinic.