When exploring your options for the outcome of your pregnancy, abortion may seem like the simplest solution to get you back on the track you intended for your life. However, abortion is a serious medical procedure and requires thoughtful consideration to determine if it is the right choice.

There are two types of abortion, medical and surgical. The length of your pregnancy determines the method you have. Learn more about abortion procedures to make an informed decision about your reproductive health.

Medical Abortion

For a medical abortion, a woman is prescribed mifepristone and misoprostol. Sometimes this procedure is referred to as “the abortion pill.” Mifepristone is taken first to block the body’s progesterone which the pregnancy needs to develop.

This drug causes the demise of the embryo or fetus as it detaches from the uterine wall. Misoprostol is then taken within 48 hours to force the uterus to contract. This forces the embryo or fetus out of the woman’s body through the vagina with bleeding and cramping.

Medical abortions are only FDA-approved for pregnancies under ten weeks. An ultrasound before the procedure can determine how long a woman has been pregnant to ensure her safety.

Since women choosing a medical abortion will experience the procedure at home, they should know the potential risks to determine if they need medical attention. The following are the risks of medical abortion:

  • 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

Signs and symptoms that a woman needs medical intervention following a medical abortion can include:

  • Heavy bleeding — soaking two or more pads an hour for two hours
  • Severe abdominal or back pain
  • Fever lasting more than 24 hours
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

Surgical Abortion

A surgical abortion is a procedure that usually takes place in an abortion provider’s office. The provider uses metal rods to dilate the cervix (the opening of the uterus). Suction is then used to remove the pregnancy from the uterus. Depending on how far along the pregnancy is (usually over 14-16 weeks,) additional tools like a curette (a sharp spoon-shaped instrument) or forceps may be needed to remove the fetus.

After a surgical abortion, the woman will usually spend around a half hour in observation (longer if she has been sedated) before being sent home to recover.

While recovering, a woman must monitor herself for the following risks of surgical abortion:

  • Uterine perforation (a small tear in the uterus)
  • Uterine infection
  • Uterine bleeding

If a woman experiences signs and symptoms of these complications following a surgical abortion, she should contact her medical team. Concerning signs and symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe cramps
  • Unusual or bad-smelling vaginal discharge

For more information about all your pregnancy options, including abortion, schedule an appointment at Crossroads Life Center.