Cannabis and Pregnancy: what you need to know

Many women believe that smoking cannabis during pregnancy won't be harmful to the developing fetus. Unfortunately the evidence says otherwise. Using cannabis during pregnancy can be linked to preterm labour, low birth weight, and lower IQ scores.

There is no known safe dose of cannabis to use during pregnancy. This is true however the cannabis is ingested: smoking, vaping, oils or edibles. Cannabis should not be used as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, or to fight morning sickness. In addition, cannabis can easily be transmitted through breastmilk and should not be used while breast-feeding.

Watch this video from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada to learn more:

Times Have Changed

Oops! The Morning After the Night Before - Emergency Contraception

You wake up the next day and think - Oops!  Then OH NO!  You skipped more than two of your birth control pills this month, or the condom broke, or you weren't "supposed" to be having sex at all...

Take a deep breath and don't panic.  Luckily in Ontario emergency contraception is widely available and you have options.  One of the most popular choices is the Morning After Pill, or Plan B.  This pill contains a single high dose of Progestin, which is a medication that is also found in the birth control pill.  It can prevent an unwanted pregnancy up to five days after unprotected sex, and is available over the counter at the pharmacy.  Also, if you are 24 years old or younger then it is covered by the OHIP+ drug benefits program, so it is free with an Ontario health card.

The easiest option might be to take a higher than normal dose of your current birth control pill, known at the Yuzpe method.  You need to take two doses of treatment: 100mcg of estrogen and 500mcg of progestin, spaced twelve hours apart.  Depending on the dose of medication in your oral contraceptive, that may be between two to five pills for each dose.  Taking this many birth control pills all at once has some unpleasant side effects, including nausea and vomiting, headache and dizziness.  This method is suggested for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.  You may want to consult with a health care provider before trying the Yuzpe method, to ensure that you are taking the right dose.

Another method of emergency contraception that also provides long-term birth control is the Copper IUD.  The Copper IUD is a T-shaped device that sits in the uterine cavity and prevents a pregnancy from getting established.  It is safe and effective even if you have never had a baby before.  It prevents pregnancy for up to seven days after unprotected sex, and can also provide five years or more of birth control.  

The Copper IUD is very safe and highly effective - it prevents 99% of unwanted pregnancies.  However if you have an allergy to copper, unexplained vaginal bleeding, or a very distorted uterus (i.e. very large fibroids) then the Copper IUD is not right for you.

At Bloor West Village Women's Clinic we do IUD insertions.  The Copper IUD is a device and is not covered by OHIP+, however we sell them on site at our clinic, and will do a same day assessment and IUD insertion.  We also screen you for sexually transmitted infections so that you can be treated if necessary.

[Unfortunately the hormonal IUDs - Mirena, Jaydess and Kyleena - cannot be used for emergency contraception.  The progestin in the IUDs will not prevent a new pregnancy from implanting in the uterus.  However we do insert these IUDs for birth control and will write you a prescription as well.]

If it is too late for emergency contraception - or if you tried some and it didn't work - then you may be pregnant.  Take a deep breath and don't panic.  You have some time to consider your options, but if you do decide to terminate your pregnancy then we can offer you either a medical or surgical abortion at our clinic.  If you are interested in an appointment, or if you want to learn more, then please contact us.  We are here to help.


Access to Abortion - personal stories from the past and present

When it comes to reproductive health options, women in Canada today have it pretty good.  Abortion is legal, and in theory should be accessible to anyone who needs it; as well the abortion pill (mifepristone) is now available and in many parts of the country it is free.  Despite this, a woman or girl can still find it difficult to access an abortion: she may need to travel significant distances to reach the service, she may feel uncomfortable speaking to her doctor about how to access an abortion, or be afraid that her parents or her boyfriend or husband will find out.  Cost can be a barrier, especially if travel is involved, or if she needs to go to another province for her abortion.  And overlying all of this is the code of silence that surrounds abortion care - women don't speak about their needs or their experiences because they are ashamed, or are afraid of the judgement of people around them.  Silence is also a barrier.

Two new stories strive to break this last barrier down.  One of these is No Choice, a series of interviews by the documentarian Bill Moyers who spoke with women about their abortion experiences, in particular from a time when having an abortion was illegal and unsafe.  Often women put their lives at risk rather than carrying through with an unwanted or untenable pregnancy.  Check out

Another medium is the contemporary British drama "I told my mum I was going on an RE trip...", which has now been adapted for the small screen by BBC2.  Young girls share their experiences with trying to get an abortion in the UK, where the procedure is legal but women confront the same logistical and social barriers as they do in Canada.   All of the lines spoken by the actors are drawn from interviews with women and girls telling their own real abortion stories.  They reflect the confusion that young girls experience with an unwanted pregnancy, the struggle to wade through the misinformation, and to come to terms with their decision to seek an abortion in a way that they find acceptable.  "I told my mum..." is currently only available in the UK on BBC iPlayer.   


Six Crazy Abortion Myths that you Need to Know About

There are lots of ideas out there about abortion, and many of the common stories you will hear are simply not true.  Here we debunk some of the common myths about abortion so that you can start to gather the facts:

1. MYTH: Abortions are dangerous.

FACT: Abortion is one of the safest and most common surgical procedures performed in Canada. Having an abortion is 4-10 times safer than delivering a baby, even for a healthy woman.  Medical abortions using Mifegymiso are now also available in Canada up to nine weeks gestational age, and are also very safe.

2. MYTH: Abortion will make you infertile or give you breast cancer.

FACT: A safe medical or surgical abortion will NOT affect your future fertility.  This myth probably comes from the time when women had to have illegal and unsafe abortions because they didn't have access to safe abortion.  These unsafe abortions often led to major complications including infection, bleeding, infertility or death.  An abortion is a well-run health facility, overseen by a trained health professional, is very safe and should have have any long-term impact on your health, including your fertility.  

The supposed connection between abortion ad breast cancer is pure fiction used to scare women - there is no connection whatsoever.

3. MYTH: Women who have abortions suffer from regret and guilt

FACT: It is a fact that most women who have abortions have to make a difficult decision in an imperfect world.  Many women may regret having gotten pregnant in the first place, or having a pregnancy that they can't keep, but they are making the decision that is best for them at that time in their lives.  In fact, most women feel relief ather their abortion and feel that a terrible burden has been taken off of their shoulders.

4. MYTH: Women are tricked into having an abortion

FACT: This is a common zinger from the anti-choice activists, who say: if only women know the truth - you're going to be a mother! - they wouldn't have an abortion after all.  The idea that grown women are like gentle lambs, being tricked into abortions by evil and manipulative abortionists, is patently absurd, and nothing could be further from the truth.  Women seek abortions because they can't or don't want to have a baby and they know exactly what they are doing.  In fact the majority women who have an abortion are already mothers, and don't feel ready to have another child for a whole variety of reasons.

If you have more questions about the abortion procedure or you would like to book an appointment at our clinic, please click here.

The Abortion Pill - What do I need to know?

The Abortion Pill is now available in Canada - finally!  Women have been using this abortion method in the United States and Europe for decades.  So what is the dirt on this kind of abortion?

For starters, it is quite effective for causing an abortion in early pregnancy.  Health Canada has approved the abortion pill, called Mifegymiso, for terminating pregnancies up to 9 weeks from your last menstrual period.  

The method is now very convenient.  It can be prescribed by any physician or nurse practitioner, and the medication can be picked up at your local pharmacy.  That means that the abortion pill gets a check mark for convenience, especially if you are living far away from an abortion clinic.

When you take the Abortion Pill, the termination - or miscarriage - happens in the comfort of your own home.  This usually occurs 4-6 hours after you take the second dose of medication.  You will experience cramping and bleeding.  Sometimes the cramping will be severe, and it is helpful to have some pain medication on hand.  The bleeding may be light or heavy; if you are worried about the amount of bleeding then you should contact your health care provider.

At Bloor West Village Women's Clinic we do a thorough assessment of your pregnancy before prescribing a medical abortion (the abortion pill), including using an ultrasound to ensure that your pregnancy is at the right stage and that there are no other complications.  Along with the Mifegymiso we also provide you with pain medication to help with the cramping, and information on what to expect and what to do in case of complications.  We will follow-up with you to make sure that the procedure was successful and address any of your concerns, including a prescription for birth control or inserting an IUD.

About ten percent of women will take several weeks to complete the miscarriage, and some women will not pass the pregnancy and will eventually need a surgical abortion.  As we provide surgical abortions on site, we can treat women who need care after a failed medical abortion.  

If you had a medical abortion at another clinic that was not successful, then talk to your clinician about a referral to Bloor West Village Women's Clinic.  We are happy to provide care for women in Toronto and the GTA, as well as other locations such as Barrie, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, London, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Windsor, to name a few.  We provide surgical management of failed medical abortions, something that your doctor or nurse practitioner may not have easy access to.  We have many same-day and next-day appointments so that you can be seen quickly at our facility, and we even see walk-in patients if needed.  

Also if you are not able to find someone to prescribe the abortion pill in your community, then we are happy to help.  Please contact Bloor West Village Women's Clinic for further information.

Chlamydia: an infection we should care about!

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in Canada and the US, particularly among men and women under 25 years of age, although it can affect anyone who is not in a monogamous relationship.  That includes anyone in a  sexual relationship with a new (to them....) partner.

Unfortunately, most women who carry chlamydia do not even know that they are infected.  You can have the infection without any visible symptoms, but the disease can cause long term inflammation of the pelvis leading to scarring and chronic pain, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and infertility.  

Fortunately diagnosing and treating chlamydia is easy.  Chlamydia can be detected using a urine test, or with a swab taken during a pelvic exam.  Treatment is with a single dose of the antibiotic azithromycin, which is both safe and effective (98% cure rate).  However it is important that your sexual partner(s) are also treated at the same time, otherwise you will develop a "ping-pong" infection, passing the infection back and forth.  Consider informing any partners you have had in the past two months so that they can also get treated if necessary.

If you have been treated for chlamydia, we recommended getting retested in three months to make sure that there is no reinfection.  Also, if you are pregnant and plan to proceed with your pregnancy, then it is important to have follow-up testing  as chlamydia can infect a newborn during labour and delivery with possible serious consequences.

At Bloor West Village Women's Clinic we routinely test all women for chlamydia before your abortion procedure or D&C. We will contact you if your test is positive and provide treatment; all communication is confidential.

For more information about chlamydia and your health please see:




Abortion and the Illusion of Choice

When I was going through medical school many years ago, I became passionate about reproductive justice: a woman's right to control her own body, to make her own reproductive choices, and ultimately to have an abortion if and when she wanted to without any interference from others.  I felt a strong sense of justice because women throughout history have borne the consequences of society making choices about their bodies: when they could have sex and with whom, when and who they would marry, how many children they could have, or not have.  A woman's control of her reproductive choices is about taking back control of her life.

I still believe in these same fundamental principles, but having worked at an abortion clinic for several years now I realize that the idea of "choice" is far more complex than it seems at first.  No woman chooses to come to our clinic to have an abortion in the real sense of the word.  Who wouldn't rather be somewhere else?  Working?  Shopping?  At the dentist even?!  While many women are eager and even happy to be able to come to our clinic, I wouldn't necessarily call it a "choice".  

Most women come to our clinic because they find themselves in a situation not of their choosing. The reasons that women end up unintentionally pregnant, or pregnant at the wrong time, or unable to bear a child are myriad, and I don't need to go into them here.  The key point is that for many women having an abortion or a D&C isn't a real choice, it is their best response to an unhappy, or nerve-wracking, or even devastating situation.  

However the idea of choice is not unimportant.  Having an abortion may be the most viable option under difficult circumstances for many women, but at least in Canada abortion is legal, and it is safe.  In many other countries abortion may also be the only choice a woman has, but there she must put her own health and safety, and even her own life at risk to get the service she needs.  Where there is often little space for real choice for women, it is society that dictates how dangerous her journey will be.

For more information on the abortion procedure or to book an appointment please contact us here.

The Abortion Pill is now free for Women in Ontario

On August 3, 2017 the government of Ontario announced that medication Mifegymiso, also known as the "Abortion Pill" will be made free to all women across the province.  This means that women will now have affordable access to medical abortion as well as surgical abortion in Ontario.  Qualified physicians and nurse practitioners will now be able to prescribe Mifegymiso, which can be picked up at participating pharmacies.  

A medical abortion involves taking a set of pills over a period of days, and causing miscarriage of the pregnancy.  The miscarriage will happen in the privacy of your home, which some women find more convenient than have a surgical procedure.   Medical abortion with Mifegymiso is suitable for women up to nine weeks of pregnancy.  A woman who is having a medical abortion should have ready access to a health centre or hospital during her miscarriage in case of heavy bleeding.  If you are planning on travelling outside of the country or to a remote area, the medical abortion may not be the right choice for you.  

At Bloor West Village Women's Clinic we prescribe Mifegymiso, as well as providing surgical abortions.  Please review the section on Medical Abortion on our website to determine if this is a good option for you.  You can also call our clinic at 416-849-4595 and speak with one of our staff about your abortion choices or contact us here.

Abortion Access Increasingly Restricted in the United States

Recent political changes in the United States threaten the access of women there to safe and affordable abortion, particularly if the federal government succeeds in defunding Planned Parenthood.  However the access of American women to abortion care has been gradually eroding even before the current administration.  Dozens of laws across the country have made it more expensive, more time-consuming and more difficult for women to access abortion services.  Laws in Texas that require abortion providers to have privileges at local hospitals have forced the closure of most of that state's abortion clinics.  Other states require women to return to the clinic for multiple visits, to look at the ultrasound of the pregnancy, or for doctors to provide false, negative information about the long term risks of abortion.

When legal access is no longer possible, women are often desperate and turn to dangerous, self-induced abortions.  Data from internet search-engines shows that more women are trying to find out how to do a home abortion, and those women overwhelmingly live in states with poor access to legal, safe abortion care.

Luckily in Canada abortion is fully legal, and there are no requirements such as forcing a women to come back for a second visit, forcing her to look at her ultrasound, or providing her with misleading or false information about the risks of abortion.  Most abortion services in Canada are concentrated in the large towns and cities, making access difficult for women in rural communities.  However at least they do not face unreasonable and unfair barriers created by layers of government that do not have women's best interests or health in mind.

To learn more about restricted access to abortion in the United States read the following article:



To book an appointment at Bloor West Village Women's Clinic click here.


Miscarriage of pregnancy - what are your options?

The miscarriage of a pregnancy can be an upsetting and frightening experience.  Sometimes the miscarriage is the first sign that you were pregnant.  Other times it is the painful end of a much wanted pregnancy.  In any case you will ask yourself what the next steps should be.

If you are bleeding, have strong abdominal or pelvic pain, or a fever, then you should seek immediate medical help.  Once you know that you are having a miscarriage then the process might take hours, days or even weeks.  Make sure that you are under the care of a medical professional.  You may be given medication to speed the miscarriage, or you may be offered a D&C (dilatation and curettage), or you may suggest an expectant management approach, without any intervention.

If you are experiencing discomfort with the miscarriage then you may benefit from rest; a hot water bottle over the lower abdomen can relieve symptoms of cramping.  Over the counter pain medication can also provide relief.

If you would like more information about the management of miscarriage please read this link below from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada: 

Miscarriage and stillbirth - Pregnancy SOGC

At Bloor West Village Women's Clinic we offer definitive management of miscarriage through surgical D&C.  Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to speak with one of our staff.

Zika: Worse than Thalidomide?

In early 2016 Brazilian authorities noted an alarming spike in the number of cases of microcephaly in some parts of the country. Microcephaly is the medical term for "small head", meaning that the baby's brain did not develop normally during pregnancy. The symptoms of microcephaly can include intellectual deficits, deafness, blindness, seizures and death. Usually microcephaly is extremely rare, but Brazil was seeing many times the number of cases expected. The reason? The condition was being caused by Zika, a formerly little-known virus transmitted by mosquitoes. Women who were infected during pregnancy, or even before pregnancy, transmitted the virus to the developing baby, with devastating consequences.

Since the outbreak was first identified we have learned a lot about Zika, none of it good. The virus can also be transferred to a woman through her partner's semen, so even if she isn't infected by a mosquito bite, she could still get infected and pass the virus on to her fetus. Also, the geographic range of Zika is now known to extend throughout South and Central America and Mexico, and is even in the southern United States. Because a Zika infection often doesn't have symptoms for the woman, she may be carrying the Zika virus without knowing it.

This is a public health disaster, but there seems to be little that the affected countries are able - or willing - to do. "Don't get pregnant" is the advice from health ministers. This is very difficult for women to do in countries where birth control expensive and hard to access, and where abortion is often illegal. Many women are left with few options to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child.


For more information on Zika and its effects on the brain please see the article below:

Zika: Worse Than Thalidomide?

Mifegymiso, the abortion pill, is now available in Canada

Here's what you need to know.

One year after Health Canada first approved Mifegymiso, the drug is finally available , but only through physicians certified to prescribe it.


What it is

Included among the World Health Organization’s list of “essential medicines,” the combination of mifepristone (also known as RU-486) and misoprostol is used in medical abortions, ending pregnancy in its first trimester. Previously unavailable here, the drug received approval from Health Canada last July. Its brand name will be Mifegymiso.

How it works

Mifepristone blocks the production of progesterone, a hormone that prepares the uterine lining for pregnancy. A day or two later, a woman then takes the drug misoprostol, which causes contractions. Together, the drugs essentially induce a miscarriage at home.

Where it’s used

Mifepristone first became available in France and China in 1988, in the United Kingdom in 1991 and in most European countries by 1999. In 2000, it was approved in the United States, and in Australia in 2012. The drug is now used in roughly 60 percent of abortions in some European countries and about 20 percent in the U.S.

The risks

A 2012 review of more than 45,000 abortions using mifepristone found that fewer than five percent of women required surgery to complete the abortion and 0.4 percent experienced serious complications. The review, published in the medical journal Contraception, concluded that “[e]arly medical abortion with mifepristone 200 mg followed by misoprostol is highly effective and safe.”

The delay

In October 2011, the European drug company Linepharma International submitted an application to Health Canada for approval of its 200-mg mifepristone tablet. The company resubmitted an application the following year, but Health Canada held off making its decision until now.

Medical abortion in Canada today

Until recently fewer than four percent of abortions in Canada are performed medically. Currently, women take methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug administered orally or by injection, then follow with misoprostol after five to seven days. In addition to the longer wait time, the drug is less predictable than mifepristone, sometimes requiring several weeks to complete, additional appointments with practitioners and surgery.

by Danielle Groen, published 20 Apr 2016


"Phony abortion clinics in Canada are scaring women with lies" ~VICE

Here's an informative article by Tamara Khandakar from VICE Canada, about fake abortion clinics -- or rather, religious organizations that attempt to convince women to change their mind.

"They'll have innocuous-sounding names, like “Aid to Women” or “Pregnancy Care Centre,” and to the untrained eye, they won't look like they're being run by lying nut jobs.

When I call Aid to Women, a Toronto crisis pregnancy centre, to schedule a pregnancy options consultation, I speak with Enza Rattenni, the executive director. She seems friendly enough at first, but it's not long before what should be a pretty simple phone call starts feeling like an interrogation.

Full disclosure: none of what I tell Enza on the phone is true: I'm not six weeks pregnant, I don't have a boyfriend, and I don't need options counselling. But I've heard a ton of horror stories about crisis pregnancy centres."


"She tells me if I'm only able to come in after hours, it's fine and that she knows how important it is to have these conversations. Sometimes, she tells me, girls walk out of abortion clinics and find out they've been LIED to, and she doesn't want this to happen to me. It made me wonder how the women who mistakenly stumble into the clinic Enza is working out of must feel when they realize they’ve been misled, given how little these clinics do to distinguish themselves as anti-abortion organizations."

At any genuine abortion clinic, counseling must always be unbiased. All counsellors are trained to help ensure each patient is making a decision based on what she wants. Women's decisions are respected. Moreover, these fake clinics attempt not only to pass themselves off as unbiased, but give the impression of being medical in nature - they are neither, of course. These centers are unregulated, have their own personal agenda, and use deception, fear and intimidation to acoomplish their own selfish goals.

Additionally, they use fear mongering and blatant falsehoods that are not medically supported to scare people away from a very common, safe and legal procedure performed many thousands of times each year in Toronto alone. Unlike Canadian abortion clinics, these centers aren't accountable to anyone and lure women under false pretenses.

"Many women are presumably being coerced by these clinics into keeping children they’re not ready for—and with a significant lack of attention placed on these phony abortion centres—this is an issue Canada should become more aware of as soon as possible."