Study on drug induced abortion: “I never experienced anything so painfull in my life. A pain impossible to descibe.”

Publié le 22 Nov, 2016

This morning, the Fondation de L’Avenir made public the results of a study led in 11 hospital centres that included 453 women, to assess the levels of pain caused by abortion. A subject that is very rarely studied.


Today in France, with over 220 000 every year, 1 women out of 5 has an abortion. A constant figure, though contraception is widely available: 80% of women use contraception (cf. Does contraception really reduce the number of abortions? Experts’ answer).


Since 1990, date on which drug induced abortion was authorized, figures have kept escalating; they now represent 57% of abortions carried out in France. The results of the study show that 27% of women having had an abortion felt very intense pain on the third day. As they say: “I never experienced anything so painful in my life. A pain impossible to describe”, “the pain was crushing”, “Drug induced abortion is very painful. Even though you are told it will be painful, you don’t imagine it will be that bad”. 83% of women confirm having taken painkillers during the five days of the treatment. More than one women out of 4 declared having been worried about the bleeding caused by the drugs.


The women speak of the effects felt during the 5 days of the treatment: fatigue (88%), nausea (70%), dizziness (42%) headaches (42%), diarrhoea (37%), and finally vomiting (28%). In total, 94% of women have declared having had at least one of the symptoms other than pain during the five days following the abortion.


They also say they felt frightened, anxious. They felt afraid of what was going on. Some of them asked themselves: “What am I doing?” Marie-Josèphe Saurel-Cubizoles, a research epidemiologist at the INSERM says she was surprised by how serious the spontaneous comments left by the women were”. They remind people that “abortion is never a harmless act, neither is it banal”. They “insist on the fact that they felt alone during the ordeal, and some even say they felt guilty”. The women deplore “the lack of information” concerning the side effects, such as the level of bleeding. 27% of them found it “worrying”. One of them left a comment describing how: “The bleeding lasted over 20 days. It was very stressful, it is difficult to move on”.

Finally, only 40% of the women answered the questionnaire. According to Marie-Josèphe Saurel-Cubizoles, “some women do not wish to go over a painful event”. Paradoxically, 81% of the women interrogated answered that they would choose drugs if they were to have another abortion. But some admit: “I do not want to have another abortion, it is traumatising”.


[1]The Foundation de l’Avenir encourages and supports applied medical research, a bridge between fundamental research and its application to patients.

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