A Personal Story

Submitted: Jan 14, 2005

Shared by: Caitlin from the US

Age: 23
Weight: 105
Height: 5'1"

Do you smoke tobacco? Very rarely

Did you have a pregnancy test? Yes
What was the result. Positive
If more than one test was taken please include info for each one. Both positive

How was the pregnancy ended? Surgical abortion
Were you successful in using the herbs? No
Would you try herbs again, or recommend them to a friend in the same situation? Yes

Is there anything that clued you in that the herbs might be working before bleeding started? I had cramping and soreness in my lower back and pubis region, but no bleeding.

Is this your first pregnancy? No

How many weeks pregnant were you when the herbs were started? 1
For how many days were the herbs used (total)? About 21 days

What was the date the pregnancy was terminated? Jan 12

Were you using birth control? Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) & condoms
What kind/method of birth control/contraception were you using? FAM, no condoms at the point of the cycle
Do you know how/why it failed? I ovulated 4 days earlier than the earliest ovulation date I had ever had in 2.5 years, and had unprotected intercourse two days later than I should have had, leaving 5 days between stopping unprotected intercourse and my earliest expected ovulation date. Instead, I ovulated the day after having unprotected intercourse, perhaps due to illness. Although my temperature was normal up until that point, the days following I had a fever and sub-temperature, making it impossible for me to determine that I had already ovulated until 4 days after.

Did you experience any symptoms or signs of pregnancy? Breast tenderness, nausea, soft cervix at first followed by a very hard cervix.
When did they start? About 2.5-3 weeks after conception

Please include a summary of dosage information.
For first week: 6000 mg Vitamin C daily (one dose), 1000 mg Dong Quai daily, parsley suppository

Second and third weeks: 1000 mg Vitamin C hourly except at night (every four hours), 1000 mg Dong Quai hourly, parsley tea, ginger tea nearly hourly, celery seed tea when I could stomach it, uterine massage nightly or every other night

Side effects.
Extremely gaseous, nauseous, dizziness
How did the herbs affect you? It was somewhat hard to tell whether I was having cramps or gas, but I think I had both. My stomach was a mess.
Any positive effects? I liked the feeling of cramping, because I wanted so badly to release it. Otherwise, nope.
Where there any negative effects? Terrible gas and stomach aches, exhaustion, nausea and fainting near the end

Do you have any health problems or issues? Chronic liver disease
If yes, do you think it had any affect on the way the herbs affected you? Possibly, though not likely since I made sure that all the herbs were okay for the liver. In fact, they are all beneficial to the liver.

How did the herbs make you feel physically? Like I said, terrible, but not unmanageable.
How did being pregnant make you feel physically? Not great, but a breeze compared to the gas of the herbs.

Could you reflect on the process of a herbal abortion? I think it helps to consult an herbalist, which I would have done if I had been in the same state as my regular herbalist. It also helps to make a plan for yourself, and to not get so goal-oriented that you induce desperation. Although surgical abortion can be difficult to obtain for some people, keeping that in mind and part of your plan will help you if the herbs don't work. Herbal abortion demands a lot of emotional involvement, in a way that surgical abortion does not necessarily. So if you do not want to go through this, have been traumatized in some way, or do not have a support person, I would suggest surgical abortion which is effective, safe, and quick.

Your Story -

I had had an abortion 2.5 years ago, which prompted me to learn the fertility awareness method (FAM). I felt terribly out of touch with my body and wanted complete knowledge of what was going on, rather than being controlled by ignorance or hormones. I cannot take hormonal birth control because of chronic liver disease, and also because I knew that after having been on it for three-four years, it compromises my libido and orgasm, as well as a kind of natural rhythm of life.

I was using FAM with my partner, and had grown perhaps a little lax since I typically ovulate on the 20th day or later. So I had been having unprotected intercourse a day or two later than I should have (since my shortest recorded cycle was 32 days, that meant the 11th day). We had sex on the 13th day and then switched to condoms, which was 5 days before my earliest ever ovulation day, the 18th. Unfortunately, I ovulated 4 days earlier than this earliest ovulation day, or 7 days before my average ovulation day. I had had no other unusual signs of fertility (no spinn, no soft cervix or anything), so I attribute it to being completely exhausted and sick from liver disease, aggravated by a stressful time.

I learned a lot in those 2.5 years of FAM, about Wild Carrot Seeds (Queen Anne's Lace) and taking vitamin C to prevent the embryo from adhering to the uterine lining, but all those things (and Plan B) were a bit too late when I finally figured out that I had already ovulated, about 5 days later. Because I was sick, my temperature fluctuated greatly from fever to sub-temperature, and it was only when it leveled out well above my pre-ovulation temperature that I was certain I had ovulated. There was no doubt I was pregnant. Of course, there was always the possibility... but I am young and fertile and the conditions were perfect. Sperm were ready and waiting when the egg dropped.

The first abortion I had was quite traumatic because the clinic I went to was awful. They put me under general anesthesia despite my concerns for my liver, made me wait hours but rushed me through the procedure, and even seemed to have some racial aggressions towards some of the black patients. I was also in college and days after the abortion left for a semester abroad, and had to tell the advisors so they could help me find post-abortive care. Despite their welcoming attitude, they made moralistic comments and never treated me quite the same.

So I did not want to repeat this experience, and thought I might be able to induce menstruation even before it was due (a great advantage to using FAM was that I didn't have to wait until skipping my next period to know exactly what was going on). I immediately started taking large doses of vitamin C, but wild carrot seeds were unobtainable. I then searched the internet for herbs contraindicated for pregnancy (my first search for herbal abortion brought up nothing but scare sites), and selected those herbs that I knew were safe for the liver, and double-checked to make sure. I had known for a long time about black cohosh and pennyroyal, but also knew that the liver toxicity is so great that even a normal, healthy person should not take them. At times I was tempted to take a small dose of black cohosh, but ultimately decided that having a surgical abortion was worth keeping my liver healthy.

I chose Dong Quai and vitamin C for their availability and safety, and added a casual amount of parsley concoctions and ginger to the mix. Later, I found this site and discovered that I should perhaps be taking a lot more Dong Quai, and at more regular intervals. So for two weeks I switched to taking 1000 mg of each hourly. (I was visiting my mom at the time, and because she is menopausal she had everything I could have ever needed: dong quai, black cohosh, blue cohosh, ginger, turmeric tea, etc.!) This induced a lot of gas, and by the third week I was dizzy and nauseous all the time. It also induced cramping, and I wonder if I had continued if I would have miscarried. But because I was feeling so ill, and wasn't sure if the dizziness and nausea were due to the pregnancy or to illness or to herbs, I decided to stop after three weeks.

I had always left open the plan to do surgical abortion if the herbs did not work. I would have liked to have continued, but I felt too ill and emotionally exhausted to persist. I also did not want to proceed beyond what the medical sphere calls the 8th week of pregnancy (or what would have been 6 weeks after my conception), because it becomes more difficult to obtain an abortion. So I spent some time trying to find a good clinic (to avoid past experience), and ultimately (and to my great relief) discovered that my own doctor performs them in her office. Most doctor's offices that do this do not advertise it for fear of being targeted by violent pro-lifers, but always check with your primary care doctor first (if you trust him/her; I made the mistake of asking a gynecologist I didn't know very well the first time I was pregnant and she flipped out on me). I scheduled a surgical abortion with her at 7 weeks (or 5 weeks after conception), which was a much better experience than the first. Although it was extremely painful (I did not have general this time, but local anesthesia) and ended up vomiting, sweating, and practically passing out, it felt much better to be in the presence of doctors who cared, who were taking their time, and who knew me, all while I was completely conscious.

Ultimately, it was a difficult struggle for me. Whereas the first pregnancy I was quite certain that I wanted an abortion (I had to leave the country in a matter of a week), had no symptoms, and had the abortion within a few days after discovering that I was pregnant, this one I was not as certain. It was certain that financially it would be unimaginable, and I also had an aversion toward the idea of having my lover's child, with whom I was not deeply in love. But I did want to keep it, and my body told me that. All day every day I kept telling my body to expel it, and explaining to the inhabiting spirit that there was no future with me. I tried to imagine my boss and her husband, who are trying to conceive, and to explain that one way or another it was going to have to leave my body. But my body really did put up a fight, and so did my heart. When I was sitting in the office prior to the abortion, I was sad and afraid that afterwards I would feel mournful and regretful. In a way, I am, but the painful cramping and removal of all that unwanted tissue felt so good. It was so painful but so pleasurable to feel myself being relieved of it. It was an antagonistic presence in my body.

Like the first time, I don't ever want to have another abortion, but even armed with the best knowledge and even being prudent cannot prevent a fertile 20-something from getting pregnant. I think the herbs might not have worked with me, despite the high doses and length of time, because of my age. I am a lot younger than most of the people who claim to have had success with herbs on this site, and that difference in fertility probably counts for something. So younger women, do keep this in mind. And while causing toxic poisoning to the fetus with such things as black cohosh and pennyroyal or other unnamable may more readily induce miscarriage, it is not worth the damage done to your body when safe and comfortable surgical abortion can be found if given some time. I have known too many people who have had traumatic experiences with abortion, so do take the time to not freak out, be patient, and carefully seek support. Abortion is never easy, but it should never compromise your health; always put that first.

Is there anything you would have done differently? I would have taken wild carrot seeds or plan B, even if late, and perhaps taken a greater variety of herbs all at once (like combining more with fenugreek, more parsley & celery seeds, etc.).

There are many lessons that can be learned from an experience such as this, Do you feel you have learned something from this experience? If so what? I thought I knew a lot, but even armed with knowledge there is nothing like experience. Each woman's body is different, and each pregnancy is different. I now have a great store of wild carrot seeds for pre-ovulatory intercourse without condoms, thanks to sources on your website. Thanks so much, of course, to everyone who takes the time to share and read these stories. Such sharing is invaluable.

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