If you are considering abortion for your unplanned pregnancy, it’s essential to know what to expect first. An abortion, with the use of drugs or surgery, can have lasting physical and psychological consequences. Although we do not perform or refer for abortion, we can provide the factual information you need beforehand.

What Are the Types of Abortion?

There are two main types of abortion: medication (the abortion pill method) and surgical. The number of weeks you have been pregnant determines the type of abortion you have.

Medication Abortion (the abortion pill method)

The FDA has approved the use of the drugs for medication abortion through 10 weeks of gestation (70 days from the first day of your last period). The Mayo Clinic states you shouldn’t attempt a medical abortion if you’ve been pregnant for more than nine weeks (56 days). The farther along you are, the less effective the drugs become.

The abortion pill method uses two drugs to terminate a pregnancy. The FDA highly regulates the first drug, mifepristone.

Bleeding and cramping are usual side effects of the abortion pill method but may also include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Risks of using the abortion pill method include:

  • Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
  • An ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

Surgical Abortion

A form of surgical abortion used during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is vacuum or suction aspiration. As the pregnancy progresses, abortion providers also use a spoon-shaped scraping tool called a curette or forceps to remove larger parts.

The abortion provider determines if you need local anesthesia or sedation for the surgical procedure. Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, your provider may also need to dilate (open) your cervix (the entrance to the uterus).

Side effects of a surgical procedure include bleeding and cramping but may also include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Risks of surgical abortion include:

  • A tear in your uterus, cervix, or intestines
  • Life-threatening blood loss
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction to the anesthesia
  • Incomplete abortion

How Should I Prepare for an Abortion?

Before any abortion procedure, you must meet with a healthcare provider. They should evaluate your medical history and overall physical and mental health.

You need to confirm your pregnancy with a blood or urine test and ultrasound to make sure you have not miscarried and that the location of the pregnancy is correct (not ectopic). Ultrasound also safely dates your pregnancy to determine the type of abortion procedure you need.

Visit the Pregnancy Help Center for free and confidential pregnancy testing and ultrasound to get the information you need beforehand.

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