By David Odongo
The worrying revelations that married women lead in procuring illegal abortion also paints a grim picture on the drugs used to induce the process.
We can now establish that most Nairobi women are readily using livestock hormonal growth drug, Estradiol to induce abortions.
Estradiol is available in many vet clinics for Sh200 per dose. But there are women who prefer Stilboestrol, a drug used to terminate pregnancies in bitches (female dogs), which is available for Sh150 per dose.
According to vet Kenneth Wameyo these drugs are sometimes sold over the counter.
“Well, from the chemist counter it is known as diethyistilboestrol but the common name is Stroel. A pack of 30 tablets costs about Sh500 although one cannot misuse the entire thirty tablets,” says Wameyo.
But for those women who cannot get the vet drugs, prefer to use ulcers tablets. The most common being Cytotec and Misoprostol that can be easily bought over the counter for Sh90 per tablet at various city pharmacies. Only three tablets are needed to procure an abortion.
Mioprostol is not used orally but inserted into the private parts to avoid deadly side effects.
“The drug has very unpleasant side effects, including nausea and vomiting. So, to reduce side effects, they insert it to be absorbed into the bloodstream,” says Wameyo.
Medic Polin Karimi explains that some women place Misoprostol under the tongue.
“When used this way, no remains of the drug can even be traced when one goes to the hospital incase of complications. There is no way to prove that one tried to induce abortion and doctors will assume it’s normal miscarriage,”
She adds, that thereafter, the doctors will just do a procedure known as curettage, or vacuum aspiration, which will remove remaining tissue from the womb.
The success rate of using misoprostol under the tongue is 95 per cent and when inserted, the success rate is 93 per cent
According to the latest research by Ministry of Health, African Population and Health Research Centre, Ipas, and Guttmacher Institute an astonishing 465,000 women procured illegal abortion last year.
Over 64 per cent of married women or those living with their partners sought post-abortion care in health facilities while 27.8 per cent have never been married and 7.5 per cent were divorced.
The highest sub-group of women who sought after-abortion care was that of unemployed housewives at 41.7 per cent.
How women abort using Misoprostol
When one swallows a dose of Mifepristone tablets by mouth, it causes the placenta to separate from the endometrium. It also softens the cervix and increases uterine contractions to allow the uterine contents to pass.
Within four hours of taking the second misoprostol, many women have vaginal bleeding and cramping, and the pregnancy is terminated.
Most pregnancies end within the first 24 hours after the Misoprostol dose. If not, then typically a second dose is given.
Signs of complications
Karimi advises that one should see a doctor immediately if she has any of these symptoms after taking Misoprostol.
“Severe bleeding which may include passing clots that are bigger than a golf ball, lasting two or more hours or soaking more than two large pads in an hour, for two hours in a row or just bleeding heavily for 12 hours in a row,” she said.
She said the swelling or redness in the genital area, vomiting lasting more than four to six hours is not also a good sign and sudden abdominal swelling, rapid heart rate and vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad is a sign to go seek treatment.