There are two main types of abortion, medical and surgical. The abortion method varies by pregnancy, how long the woman has been pregnant, and her health history. 

Both medical and surgical abortions carry risks, like any medical procedure. The best way a woman can protect her health when choosing abortion is by being informed about the procedures, risks, and potential complications.

Medical Abortion

Medical abortion is also called the abortion pill. This method of terminating a viable pregnancy uses two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. 

The first drug, mifepristone, is given at the abortion provider’s office. It blocks the progesterone naturally made in a woman’s body; without it, the pregnancy cannot survive and detaches from the uterus wall. 

Next, within 48 hours, misoprostol is given to induce uterine contractions. As the uterus squeezes, the contractions remove the pregnancy and tissues from the woman’s body through her vagina.

Medical abortion is not an option for some women, so women must share their health history with their providers. The following are cases in which women should not have a medical abortion:

  • Women further than 10 weeks along (the drugs used are only FDA-approved for the first 10 weeks.)
  • Women experiencing ectopic pregnancy (when a pregnancy occurs outside the uterus)
  • Women with a history of blood clotting disorder or anemia
  • Women with an intrauterine device (IUD) currently in place
  • Women who do not have access to emergency or follow-up care.

Risks of medical abortion include:

  • Incomplete abortion.
  • Heavy bleeding that will not stop.
  • Infection.
  • Fever.
  • Diarrhea and digestive pain.
  • Allergic reaction to the medications.

Surgical Abortion

In a surgical abortion, a provider, using rods, enters a woman’s vagina and dilates (opens) her cervix to access the contents of the uterus. Surgical instruments are then used to remove the pregnancy. 

Depending on how far along the woman is, the tools will vary. Earlier pregnancy terminations will utilize suction, while pregnancies further along will use scraping tools or forceps to remove the fetus in smaller pieces.

Risks of surgical abortion can include:

  • Uterine perforation (a hole poked through the uterus with a surgical instrument)
  • Damage to the cervix
  • Scar tissue on the uterine wall
  • Infection

Complications of Abortion

Women recover from abortion at home and not in a clinic. Home recovery means a woman needs to know the signs and symptoms of complications from abortion and be prepared to seek medical help immediately if she notices any of the following:

  • Bleeding that’s heavy enough that you need to change pads every hour
  • Lasting dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fever
  • Cramps lasting more than 48 hours
  • Pain that gets worse instead of better
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina

Contact Us For More Information

If you want more information on your options for an unexpected pregnancy, make a free appointment at Life’s Choices Women’s Clinic.

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