What Are the Risks of Abortion?

Abortion is a serious medical procedure that comes with risks. If you’re considering making this decision, you should understand how it works and all the potential risks involved.

What Are the Two Types of Abortion?

There are two types of abortion: surgical abortion and medical abortion.

During a surgical abortion, a physician uses a mixture of suction and tools to remove the pregnancy tissue from your body. This is generally recommended later in pregnancy when medical abortion (the abortion pill) is less likely to be effective. This procedure is performed in a hospital or clinic, and is more expensive the later you are in pregnancy.

Medical abortion is FDA-approved for use within the first ten weeks of pregnancy. It consists of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. The patient typically takes the first drug in the clinic to end the pregnancy by blocking progesterone.

About 24-48 hours later, the patient will finish the medical abortion at home by taking misoprostol. This drug causes the uterus to contract, triggering cramping and bleeding. This is how the body expels the pregnancy tissue from the body.

Surgical Abortion Risks

Depending on how far along you are during a surgical abortion, you may have a Dilation & Curetage abortion (D&C) or a Dilation & Evacuation abortion (D&E). The latter takes more time and requires more tools. The procedure type depends on how far along you are.

For a Dilation & Curettage abortion (D&C), the risks are as follows:

  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Damage to the cervix
  • Scar tissue on the uterine wall
  • Infection

Medical Abortion Risks

Medical abortion has less medical oversight since the procedure is finished at home. When choosing this option, ensure you have emergency room access and are in communication with a physician.

For medical abortion, the risks are as follows:

  • 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

You should seek medical attention right away if you have foul-smelling vaginal discharge, a fever lasting more than 24 hours, severe abdominal or back pain, or heavy bleeding (soaking more than two or more pads an hour for two hours).

Step One: Ultrasound

An ultrasound scan will provide you with valuable information to identify your next move. It will tell you how far along you are, if your pregnancy is viable, and if your pregnancy is progressing. 

If the scan identifies an ectopic or non-viable pregnancy, you will want to seek treatment immediately.

We’re Here to Help

Visit Relevant Pregnancy Options Center for confidential support, information, and resources. We can provide you with referrals for medical services, such as ultrasounds.

All of our services are provided at no cost to you!

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