FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions by our patients.

If you have additional questions or need clarification please ask one of our Patient Educators or medical staff when you come for an appointment or contact us.

The information presented here is for educational purposes only. This information though deemed accurate is not guaranteed; it may be subject to interpretation, errors or omissions.


Not sure how far along in the pregnancy you are? Use our PREGNANCY CALCULATOR

 

ABOUT ABORTION

Abortion is very safe, especially when done early in pregnancy. Many studies have been done that show that having an abortion in the first trimester is many more times safer than having a baby. Even a later abortion is less dangerous than having a baby. https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2008/01/11/four-abortion-myths-dispelled/
We all have different experiences with and reaction to pain. Different doctors use different ways to control pain. With the Aspiration D&C method used at our center, there may only be a few minutes of cramps. Though it is normal to fear pain, fear of pain should not be the most important factor in your decision. You will be offered medication to help with pain and given several remedial measures to increase your comfort. Our health educators will help you determine which option is best for you: procedural abortion while awake with medicines to aid in your comfort, while asleep, or medical abortion using the abortion pill at home.

Yes. All of these terms refer to the same safe and effective abortion method we provide up to a gestational age of 9 weeks.  For more information, see our Medical Abortion page.

A procedural abortion, also known as aspiration abortion, is usually administered by a method called vacuum aspiration. The procedure itself usually takes only five to ten minutes, and is a common in-office gynecology service. You can find out more at our Procedural Abortion page. Procedural abortions are offered to a gestational age of 15 weeks, 6 days.

An approximate measurement of weeks of pregnancy can be calculated from the date of your last menstrual period.  We have provided a Pregnancy Calculator which allows you to enter the date of your last period provide an estimate.

Please remember:  Only an exam, pregnancy test, or ultrasound by a physician can confirm pregnancy and approximate length of pregnancy. A missed period does not necessarily mean that you are pregnant, and having a period does not mean you are not pregnant.

 

YOUR ABORTION APPOINTMENT

Falls Church Healthcare Center takes everyone's health and safety seriously, and we have instituted measures to minimize exposure to COVID-19 for our patients and staff.  You can read our main bulletin here:  FCHC and COVID-19.

In order to protect your health and that of our staff:

    • We are only welcoming patients in our office and lobby at this time. There is a short-term "waiting area" in the building but outside of the center for partners and support people.
    • At our check-in area at our entrance your temperature will be taken and you will complete a COVID survey form confirming that you are not experiencing symptoms. We also ask you to acknowledge that we are engaging in contact tracing to protect our patients and staff.
    • Our patients and staff should wear masks properly at all times inside the center. We can provide one for you if needed.
    • Our patients and staff should wash or disinfect their hands before entering the center.
    • Patients are given a clipboard and pen for use through the entire visit.  We also give you a "OCCUPIED" sign for your seat in our lobby to ensure that everyone uses their own chair.
    • We request that you complete and submit your intake paperwork online. You will have an opportunity to review it at your appointment.

No. As of July 1, 2020, Virginia's Reproductive Health Protection Act (RHPA) was enacted, removing the state requirement for a mandatory ultrasound and waiting period!  This is wonderful news -- as we believe that medical care decisions should be made between a patient and doctor without any interference.

We encourage you to take advantage of our Telehealth session before your in-person appointment.  The Telehealth session allows for our Patient Educator to review your patient forms and answer any questions you may have. It will decrease the amount of time you will need to be at the Center for your in-person appointment.

Medical Abortion: If you have completed your Telehealth session, please prepare to be at the office for up to 1 1/2 hours to complete lab services and your medical abortion. If you are unable to complete a Telehealth session, prepare to be with us for 2 hours to complete registration, patient forms, lab services, consultation with our medical staff and your medical abortion.

Procedural Abortion: If you have completed your Telehealth session, please prepare to be at the office for up to 2 1/2 hours to complete lab services and your procedure. If you are unable to complete a Telehealth session, prepare to be with us for about 3 hours to complete registration, patient forms, lab services, consultation with our medical staff and your procedure. If your last period was more than 12 weeks ago, plan to be at the center for up to 4 hours.

Each person’s blood is one of four major types: A, B, AB, or O. Blood types are determined by the types of antigens on the blood cells. Antigens are proteins on the surface of blood cells that can cause a response from the immune system. The Rh factor is a type of protein on the surface of red blood cells. Most people who have the Rh factor are Rh-positive. Those who do not have the Rh factor are Rh-negative.

The Rh factor test is a routine test that is included in your blood test. If your blood lacks the Rh antigen, it is called Rh-negative. If it has the antigen, it is called Rh-positive. If you are Rh-negative, you will receive a medicine called Rh immunoglobulin after an abortion. The Rh immunoglobulin is a blood product that can prevent sensitization of an Rh-negative mother.

Approximately 15%  of people are Rh-Negative.

The Rh factor does not affect a person’s general health. However, problems can occur during pregnancy when the baby’s blood has the Rh factor and the mother’s blood does not, however it can be prevented in most cases with the immunoglobulin (RhIg) medication.

It depends on your procedure. If your appointment is for a medication ("the pill") or "awake" procedure, you may eat a light meal prior to your appointment.

If your appointment is for an I. V. sedation procedural abortion (while asleep),  DO NOT eat, drink, chew gum or smoke 6 hours prior to your appointment time. You may take your required medications with a sip of water.

Yes, in fact you will be offered crackers, cookies, juice, tea or soda in the recovery room. After either a medical or surgical procedure you may resume your normal eating schedule. We do suggest that you select lighter, low fat and easier to digest foods initially.

It depends on your procedure. For a medical (pill) abortion or for an awake (having local anesthetic) procedural abortion, you may drive yourself (but can have someone drive you if you want to). HOWEVER if you are having sedation/anesthesia (will be asleep) for your procedure, you cannot drive yourself home. Please have someone drive you home (preferably someone who will help you get inside and get settled) as you cannot drive yourself home. We recommend not driving for at least an additional 6 hours.

Our health educators will discuss this further with you, but we recommend avoiding  inserting anything in your vagina for seven days to minimize your risk of infection.

Yes. Your personal experience with fertility will continue as before. Many were surprised to have found it even easier to become pregnant soon after an abortion!  The D&C procedure has many uses in gynecology including a first step to fertility treatments. That is one reason why birth control options are an important part of our center’s Health Education.  We suggest that you begin using your chosen option right away.

Everyone's emotional response to their abortion varies -- and all of them are valid. Studies have shown that over time, most who have chosen abortion do not feel regret about their decision, but rather relief. 

The Abortion Conversation Project has a comprehensive section about Healthy Coping After an Abortion which we suggest you read. We also suggest you look at Before and After Abortion which includes several counseling videos and resources.

If you feel that it would help to speak with someone about your experience, we can suggest the following resources  who have experience with post-abortion counseling and who will not be judgmental of your decision.

Maria Ines Butler, MSW, LCSW

https://thrivetherapycenter.com/therapists 10560 Main Street Suite# PH4 Fairfax, VA 22030 703-507-0963 | Se habla español

Danille S. Drake, PhD

https://www.danilledrakephd.com/ 131 Great Falls Street, Suite 101 Falls Church, VA, 22046 703-532-0221

Bonnie R Sobel, RN, LCSW, BCD

http://www.bonniersobel.com/ 7643 Leesburg Pike Falls Church, VA, 22043 703-969-7871

 

TELEHEALTH

Telehealth is a secure, virtual appointment with one of our patient educators by video or audio conference. Telehealth can make your medical care more affordable and save time.
Some of Telehealth’s benefits include:
  • Accessing care at a more convenient time and place for you. Telehealth allows for you to connect with one of our patient educators remotely rather than physically being in our Center. You can access Telehealth from the comfort of your home or anywhere else.  Additionally, our Telehealth program include evening hours.
  • Accessing care in a more comfortable environment. You get to choose where you’ll be when you talk with our patient educator.  Whether it’s at your home or a friend’s home, with a support person there with you or on your own, you can decide on your environment. (Also? If you’re in your own home you won’t have to wear a mask!)
  • Spending less time in our office at your in-person appointment. On average, utilizing Telehealth decreases the amount of time you will be in our Center by about 20-30 minutes.
  • Making a secure partial payment (minimum $100) or even full payment by credit card online. Any remaining  balance can be paid at your in-person appointment. (If you are using insurance, we can check your policy and will let you know about your coverage and co-pay.)
The patient educator and you will review your patient information forms, including your medical intake forms, and review what will occur during your in-person abortioncare appointment. They are also there to answer any questions you may have or address any concerns.
Telehealth is an included component of your abortioncare appointment and there is no extra charge. At your Telehealth appointment, however, we do request a payment of $100 which is applicable towards the cost of your abortioncare appointment. When you access doxy.me for your Telehealth appointment, your patient educator will send a message prompting for your credit/debit card information for $100. (Payment processing is handled by Stripe, a trusted and well-known payment processor. Credit card information is not handled by Falls Church Healthcare Center nor doxy.me.)

If you are paying for your abortioncare appointment using private insurance, we will advise if there is any copay or co-insurance we will ask to collect at the time of your Telehealth appointment.
  • First, Request an Appointment online.  A patient educator will email or call you to schedule your Telehealth appointment at a time you’d like.  You’ll receive an email and text confirmation.
  • As soon as you’ve requested your appointment, please complete your patient information forms onlineWe want to give our patient educators enough time to review your medical history and ensure that all of the required paperwork is in order.
  • Read through the information on our website about medication abortion and procedural abortion. Feel free to think of any questions you may have.
  • Select a space where you feel comfortable and can talk freely. If you would like a support person to be there with you, that’s fine.
  • About five minutes before your appointment, log into the Telehealth session using the link provided. Make sure to enter your name as it shows on your patient information forms.
  • Have a credit/debit card ready so you can pay the $100 applicable to your abortioncare appointment.
Yes. Falls Church Healthcare Center takes our patients’ privacy very seriously.  It’s one of the reasons we chose doxy.me as our Telehealth platform — as they are well-known for their compliance with HIPAA and other privacy and security standards applicable to healthcare organizations.

Your Telehealth session is encrypted end-to-end — meaning that there is no server in the middle listening in on or saving any video or content from the session.

For further information, doxy.me has a page with details about their security and privacy implementation.
Yes! The online platform we are using for Telehealth is doxy.me (used by over 200,000 healthcare providers worldwide), and it can be accessed through a web browser on a smartphone as well as on Windows, Mac and Chromebook computers and on certain tablets.  See below for more detailed technical requirements.
The online platform we are using for Telehealth is doxy.me (used by over 200,000 healthcare providers worldwide), and it was designed to be used on many different devices with minimal system requirements:

Windows/Mac/Chromebook: You’ll need a computer with audio (microphone, speakers or headphones), video (webcam), one of the following browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Safari 11+ (latest version), and a solid internet connection. (There are more details at doxy.me’s system requirements page.)

iOS and Android: Safari 11+ on the latest version of iOS; Google Chrome on Android. You’ll need either WiFi or a data plan.

doxy.me does not work with Amazon Kindle or other e-readers at this time.

There are tools available to test your network connection to confirm that it will handle doxy.me successfully.
We prefer to use doxy.me for our Telehealth sessions in order for our patients and educators to see each other while speaking, as well as share crucial information onscreen.

If you do not have a compatible computer or smartphone, or you prefer to conduct your telehealth session through a phone call, please indicate this when you Request an Appointment or call us at 703-532-2500 and we will work with you on solutions to connect with us.
That’s perfectly fine. Some of our patients would rather meet in our Center. When you Request an Appointment, make sure to choose “I prefer to have my patient education session at my in-person appointment.” We will work to schedule your in-person appointment, and your patient education will be included. Please be aware that your appointment will likely be about 90 minutes longer when patient education is occurring in our Center.

 

INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS YOUNGER THAN 18

The Virginia Parental Consent law does not affect your freedom to choose a legal and constitutionally guaranteed medical service if you are an “emancipated minor”, which means that:
  • You are married or divorced; or
  • You are on active duty in the US Armed Forces; or
  • You are willingly living separate and apart from your parents with your parents' consent; or
  • You have a court order of emancipation
In almost all cases, if you are an unemancipated minor and you want to end your pregnancy, you must either:
  1. Get consent of one of your parents, your guardian, custodian or loco parentis; or
  2. You can meet privately with a judge who may authorize the abortion without your parents' consent.
Your parent/guardian will need to sign a form acknowledging consent for decision to receive abortion care.  This can happen in one of two ways:
  1. If  one of your parents, guardian, custodian or loco parentis can come with you to Falls Church Healthcare Center:  they simply will complete and sign a “consent authorization”, a form we can provide, and have it notarized by one of the notaries we have on staff. The Notary will require a valid photo ID from your parent/guardian.
  2. If one of your parents, guardian, custodian or loco parentis cannot come with you to Falls Church Healthcare Center:  they will need to print out and complete the following Consent Authorization Form (English / Españoland have it notarized  The notary will require a valid photo ID from your parent/guardian and may require proof of identity from you.  Please bring the notarized form to your appointment.
We encourage you to talk to your parent if you can do so safely (see "Mom, Dad, I'm Pregnant" - resources for teens and their parents) and we can help you talk to them; please feel free to speak with one of our health educators (703-532-2500).

However if you cannot tell a parent, you could use a judicial bypass. A judicial bypass is when you can go to a judge (juvenile court) who will have a private discussion with you to decide whether you can have an abortion without parental consent or without notifying your parents. Falls Church Healthcare Center or another pro-choice group can put you in touch with a volunteer lawyer to help arrange to talk with a judge. The lawyer can be with you and the judge. All of this is free. For more information, call our health educators at 703-532-2500.
  • In DC: there are no parental consent or notification requirements.
  • In MD: it is required that the physician notify a parent. The law allows the physician to waive notification if it would lead to the minor being abused, if it would not be in the minor’s best interests, or if the minor is mature.
If you'd like to find out about the laws in other states, please refer to Guttmacher Institute's An Overview of Abortion Laws
NO. The law requiring parental consent only applies to abortions for teens who are younger than 18. You, at any age, have a legal right to talk with a counselor, and to get birth control and to obtain other GYN medical services in complete confidentially.

 

BIRTH CONTROL / CONTRACEPTION

They only work when you use them! The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have created a very helpful FAQ which goes through just about every form of birth control.

You can also go to bedsider.org to discover which birth control method may be best for you. Birth control is not a one-size-fits-all and so it is important to consider YOUR needs to find a birth control method that works for YOU!

Emergency contraception is an over-the-counter birth control that prevents pregnancy after sex. You can use emergency contraception right away or up to 3 days after sex if you think your birth control failed, you didn't use contraception, or you were forced to have sex. Emergency contraception makes it much less likely you will get pregnant. It is not as effective as taking birth control beforehand, so if you are sexually active or planning to be, don't rely on emergency contraception as your only protection against pregnancy. Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

 

GYNECOLOGICAL EXAMINATIONS

We like R.N. Sharla Taylor’s, et al, University of Iowa Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, answer:

“Throughout our lives, we have many choices to make. These choices affect our family, friends, employers, and last but not least, us. The choices we make today affect the choices we’ll have to make in the future. Health care choices such as diet, exercise, health habits, and physical exams may be among our most important decisions. Our health is one of our most valuable assets, yet too often we neglect our physical needs or develop habits that may do us harm. A smart choice that we can make to ensure good health is to have a yearly gynecological exam and depending on your medical history. Pap Smear, a simple test that does not involve much time or discomfort. The Pap Smear will detect potential problems of the cervix (opening of the uterus) or vagina (birth canal) early so they can be diagnosed and treated. Another good reason to have your yearly exam is because your health professional will also do a breast exam, blood pressure check, pelvic exam and listen to your heart and lungs. Other tests may be done based on your needs and health history. It’s a good feeling knowing you’re healthy and that you are doing your part to stay that way.”

i.e., I never really know when my period is going to occur. If I happen to be having my period should I reschedule when the bleeding has stopped?

Because Pap Smear test results are more accurate when  menstruation is not occurring, it is best to try to schedule, or reschedule, your appointment so it isn’t during your period. (However this may be tricky if you are having dysfunctional uterine bleeding or irregular menstrual periods.) The best time for a Pap Smear examination is during the two weeks following the end of menstrual flow. Discuss this with one of our health educators when you call.

You may be at greater risk for abnormal Pap results if:

    • you have had sexual contact before age 18
    • you have a sexual history with multiple partners
    • your mother took DES (Di-Ethyl-Stilbestrol) – a medication, which had been taken for certain pregnancy complications from the 1940s to the 1960s
    • you have frequent infections which may be spread through sexual contact
    • you smoke
    • you have become pregnant before age 18
    • you are a transgender man who has had gender affirming hormone therapy

 

FINANCES

Fees may be paid with cash, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, cashier's checks or money orders. All fees are to be paid at the time services are provided. We accept most major health Insurance Plans and can check your benefits; check out our Insurance Carriers Accepted list for more information.

You may qualify for financial assistance to help pay for an abortion. Please ask to talk to one of our staff about qualifications screening for additional funding when you make your appointment.

Falls Church Healthcare Center works with the specific insurance providers directly listed below:

AETNA (HMO, PPO, POS, EPO, HDHP, HSA)CareFirst Administrators
AETNA CoventryCigna (HMO, PPO, OAP, SAR)
AETNA Signature AdministratorsFirst Health Network (Emergency GYN Only)
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield  (HMO, PPO, POS, HDHP)HealthSCOPE Benefits
Anthem Healthkeepers (HMO)Innovation Health
Anthem Healthkeepers Plus (GYN Only)Meritain Health (GYN Only)
CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield (HMO, PPO, Blue Choice Advantage, Blue Choice Plus)Multiplan (Beech Street, PHCS) (GYN Only)

If  the patient is not sure if their Insurance Policy includes pregnancy or gynecology benefits, we can recommend that they call their policy customer service number on the back of their insurance card for clarification.

 

Insurance Benefits Disclaimer: Verification of benefits is not a guarantee of coverage or approval of payment. Benefits are subject to all plan provisions including eligibility, requirements, exclusions and limitations. Final determination will be made once the claim has been reviewed and processed by the insurance carrier.

Important: The insurance carrier might cover the patient’s service. However, many health plans do include a high deductible which the provider may require to pay in full before they will begin to cover your services.  Please advise the patient to contact their provider’s member services to check  coverage and to confirm whether or not a deductible is applicable.

 

BEWARE OF FAKE CLINICS!

Beware of Fake Clinics

Excerpts from National Abortion Federation website https://prochoice.org/naf-helps-samantha-bee-expose-crisis-pregnancy-centers/ )

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) have a long history of intentionally misleading women to prevent them from accessing abortion care. For example some intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care, when in fact they offer neither. They may offer free sonograms but will not give you a copy or send one to us for your continued care. CPCs advertise near the headings of Abortion, Pregnancy, Women’s Centers or Clinics. CPCs may locate themselves near legitimate abortion care providers as a deliberate attempt to lure patients into visiting their centers.

Although CPCs portray themselves as a medical clinic and urge women to come in for options counseling, they do not provide full options counseling and generally will not refer for abortion care or birth control. CPC’s have used tactics intended to delay and even harass or intimidate women from making the choice best for them and even give out false and misleading information in order to dissuade women from choosing abortion. For your own protection, ask the CPC you contact if they provide abortion care or give abortion referrals. Evasive and unclear answers to this question should make you suspicious.