Reproductive Rights and Women’s Mental Health

Importance of the mental health for the women who have gone through pregnancy interruption is an important topic to discuss. Nevertheless this topic still stays a taboo in our society. Therefore we see the need to write about it and help and support women and society with useful information and supportive resources.

People can feel a variety of emotions after an abortion, it can be seen as a natural grieving process. Common responses include feelings of relief, sadness, shame, guilt, or sexual demotivation. 

Relief: terminating an unwanted pregnancy can lead to feelings of relief, however, there can still be the possibility of having mixed emotions of sadness combined with relief, this is normal since your body just went through a termination, the good news is that by spending time with love ones and doing things you enjoy the most might help you in the process of moving on from sadness. 

Shame: There is a significant amount of stigma regarding abortion, this can make a person living in a community where abortion is stigmatized feel ashamed.

Guilt: after a pregnancy termination it is totally natural to feel guilt, you had little time to decide what decision to chose and this can be a difficult situation for you to face. If you feel guilt after an abortion, the guilt could be due to factors such as the economy, not having enough time, timing, or other that made you decide to terminate the pregnancy, however, remember that you tried to make the best decision possible in the moment you decided and that is something to bear in mind. In order to have a child a person needs beyond the economy, a person needs time, patience, education to provide for the child, and nutrition, having a child is not a simple task, remember you made the best possible decision you could. 

Sexual demotivation: Some women might feel sexually normal after an abortion whilst others might feel turned off. If you have a partner have him be empathetic about it and spend time with each other in order to help you move on from the situation. It can take some time, be patient and take care of yourself. If your partner is putting pressure on you to communicate your needs, if he does not understand it it is outside of your control and not something you can control. It can also happen that you might feel scared of another unwanted pregnancy, before having sexual relationships talk to your doctor or partner about your wishes and decide what method to use in order to avoid another unwanted pregnancy. 

Pregnancy termination does not necessarily have to be bad, however, sometimes it can happen that the woman experiences post-abortion stress syndrome (PASS). It is important to emphasize how some medical professionals do not see this syndrome as a real medical condition, nevertheless, it might be crucial to bear it in mind. 

This phenomenon is characterized by feelings of depression, sadness, self-harm, anxiety, relationship conflicts, or guilt and shame. 

by Marta Padron Pena, Mental Health Intern


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