There are two types of abortion, medical and surgical. Though both are used to terminate a viable pregnancy, they vary in procedure and risks. The procedure chosen is determined by factors including how long a woman has been pregnant.
Sometimes called the abortion pill, medical abortion uses the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol in tandem to terminate a pregnancy. First, a woman will take mifepristone. This ends the pregnancy by blocking the hormone progesterone, which the body needs to make the uterus supportive of the pregnancy. Up to 48 hours later, the woman will take misoprostol to force the uterus to contract and expel the embryo or fetus.
Medical abortion is only FDA-approved in pregnancies through 10 weeks.
The risks of medical abortion can include the following:
- Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
- An ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
- Heavy and prolonged bleeding
- Digestive system discomfort
A provider performs a surgical abortion in a clinic. The provider uses rods to dilate the cervix before suctioning the embryo or fetus from the uterus. Depending on how long a woman has been pregnant, more surgical tools like a scraping tool called a curette or forceps may also be used.
The risks of surgical abortion include:
- Perforation of the uterus
- Damage to the cervix
- Scar tissue on the uterine wall
Women will experience medical abortion at home, and those receiving a surgical abortion will be sent home to recover. For this reason, it is crucial that a woman know the signs and symptoms that indicate she is experiencing complications of abortion. Complications can be severe, so a woman should seek medical treatment if she experiences any of the following after an abortion:
- Bleeding that’s heavy enough that you need to change pads every hour
- Lasting dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cramps lasting more than 48 hours
- Pain that gets worse instead of better
- Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina
- Severe abdominal or back pain
- No period for 2 months
- Symptoms of pregnancy
Contact us to schedule a free appointment. Verify your pregnancy with free testing and ultrasound, discuss your situation, and get information about all your options, including abortion.