Background: Complications of clandestine abortions increase with gestational age. The aim of this study was to identify complications of second trimester clandestine abortions (STA) and those of first trimester clandestine abortions (FTA).
Methods: This retrospective descriptive study was conducted between March 1st and August 31st, 2012 in the University Teaching Hospital and the Central Hospital, Yaoundé (Cameroon). The files of women with clandestine abortions carried out outside our units, but received in our settings for some complications were reviewed. Variables studied were maternal age, parity, marital status, gestational age at the time of abortion, the abortion provider and the method used, the duration of antibiotic coverage, the time interval between abortion and consultation, the complications presented and the duration of hospital stay. Data of 20 women with STA (≥13 weeks 1 day) and those of 74 women with FTA (≤13 complete weeks) were analyzed and compared. The t-test was used to compare continuous variables. P value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Women with STA had high parities (P = 0.0011). STAs were mostly performed by nurses and were usually done by dilatation and curettage or dilatation and evacuation, manual vacuum aspiration, intramuscular injection of an unspecified medication, transcervical foreign body insertion, amniotomy and misoprostol. STA complications were severe anemia, hypovolemic shock, uterine perforation and maternal death.
Conclusions: Clandestine abortions, especially second trimester abortions, are associated with risks of maternal morbidity and mortality especially when done by nurses. Therefore, women should seek for help directly from trained health personnel (Gynecologists & Obstetricians). Moreover, nurses should be trained in uterine evacuation procedures. They should also refer women who want to carry out STA to Gynecologists and Obstetricians. Finally, to reduce the prevalence of abortion in general, the government should make contraception available to all women, as well as use public media to sensitize women on the dangers of abortion and on the need to use family planning services.