Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions by our patients.
If you have additional questions or need clarification please ask one of our Health Educators or medical staff when you come for an appointment or EMAIL 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
How can I pay for my services?
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 the funding coordinator when you make an appointment, or call the National Abortion Federation Hotline at 1-800-772-9100.
How do contraceptives work?
They only work when you use them! The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have created a very helpful education booklet on how birth control works. It is available in English and Spanish. 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!
What is emergency contraception?
Visit our Emergency Contraception page for more info.
Emergency contraception is an over the counter birth control that prevents pregnancy after sex. You can use emergency contraception right away or up to 5 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 birth control so if you are sexually active or planning to be, don’t use emergency contraception as your only protection against pregnancy. Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
ABORTION CARE & WELL-BEING
How long will I be at the center?
Why do I have to make a separate ultrasound appointment?
The Virginia legislature as of July 1, 2012 requires that all abortion care patients complete the ultrasound step of your appointment at least 24 hours before your medical or surgical abortion (or 2 hours before if you live more than 100 miles away from our Center). We know this new legislation, as well as returning for your appointment (or the additional 2 hours wait) may be an inconvenience for you, and we appreciate your understanding. If you would like to comment on this mandatory requirement to the Virginia Department of Health, their complaint policy and contact information is detailed in our Privacy Practices at FCHC [pdf].
Can I eat before my appointment?
It depends on your procedure. If your appointment is for a medication (non-surgical) procedure you may eat a meal up to1 hour prior to your appointment. If your appointment is for surgical procedures and awake (using medications to aid in your comfort) or if you will be asleep you must be FULL NPO. DO NOT eat, drink (even water), chew gum, etc. 6 hours prior to your appointment time.
Can I eat after my appointment?
Yes, in fact you will be offered crackers, cookies, juice, tea or soda in the recovery room. After either a medical (non-surgical) 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.
Can I drive after my appointment?
It depends on your procedure. For a medical (non-surgical) procedure or for an awake (having local anesthetic) surgical procedure you may bring someone with you if you care to but you can drive yourself. HOWEVER if you are having sedation/anesthesia (will be asleep) for your procedure please bring someone with you to drive you home…you cannot drive yourself home. We recommend not driving for at least an additional 6 hours.
Is abortion safe?
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 late abortion is less dangerous than having a baby. http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/01/11/four-abortion-myths-dispelled
Will an abortion hurt?
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: surgical abortion awake with medicines to aid in your comfort, asleep, or using the abortion pill at home.
When can I have sex or intercourse?
Not until after your follow-up appointment and 3 weeks after your procedure. Our health educators will discuss this further with you but it is important to your health that nothing is inserted in your vagina until after your follow-up exam to minimize the risk of infection.
Will I be able to get pregnant again?
Yes. Your personal experience with fertility will continue as before. Many women were even surprised to have found it easier to get pregnant soon after an abortion. The D&C procedure is used for many things 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. you are counseled to begin using your chosen option right away.
How will I feel emotionally after an abortion?
An unintended pregnancy can sometimes be a catalyst for other parts of our lives to feel disrupted. While FCHC is always here to talk, some women may find they need additional emotional support from a mental health professional. FCHC is pleased to announce that we can refer our patients to the following professionals, who will offer their first session with you free of charge. Mention that you are a Falls Church Healthcare patient when you call.
Maria Ines Butler, MSW, LCSW
8626 Lee Highway, Suite 200
703 507-0963 Hablo Espanol
Danille S. Drake,PhD
121 Great Falls Street, Suite 101
Falls Church, VA
Bonnie R Sobel, Rn, LCSW
7643 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA
Your Well-Woman Visits (an annual gyn check-up)
Why should I have an annual gyn check-up – Your Well Woman Exam?
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 Pap Smear. A Pap Smear is 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 a yearly Pap 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.”
Is a Pap test useful if it’s done during menstruation?
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 a woman isn’t menstruating, 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.
Who is at greater risk for abnormal pap results?
|•||who have had sexual contact before age 18|
|•||with a history of many sexual partners|
|•||whose mothers took DES (Di-Ethyl-Stilbestrol) – a medication, which used to be taken for certain pregnancy complications from the 1940s to the 1960s|
|•||with frequent infection which may be spread by sexual contact|
|•||who become pregnant before age 18|