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Abortion can sometimes seem like the easiest option for an unexpected pregnancy. Like every medical procedure, though, women should be informed of how each procedure works, the side effects, and the long-term risks of abortion.

There are two methods of terminating a viable pregnancy, medical and surgical. The chosen method is based on various factors in a woman’s pregnancy, like her medical history and how long she has been pregnant.

Medical Abortion

Sometimes medical abortion is referred to as the abortion pill. This form of abortion uses two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone is taken first to stop the hormone progesterone from supporting the pregnancy, which causes the embryo to detach from the uterus wall. Misoprostol is taken within 48 hours to force the uterus to contract. This squeezes the contents of the uterus, including the embryo, out of the body through the vagina.

The medication used in medical abortion has the following side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Additional risks of the procedure 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

Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortion occurs in a clinic; the woman is sent home afterward to recover. During the procedure, the provider uses medication, tools, or a combination of both to dilate (open) the cervix. Suction is then used to remove the embryo or fetus from the uterus. Additional surgical tools, like a curette or forceps, might be required depending on the pregnancy’s length.

Side effects of surgical abortion can include mild cramping and light vaginal bleeding.

Other risks of surgical abortion can include the following:

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


Since women experience recovery from abortion at home, they must understand the need to monitor themselves for complications and be informed of the signs and symptoms of complications. Following an abortion, a woman should reach out to her provider immediately if she experiences any of the following:

  • Heavy bleeding (soaking through more than 2 pads in an hour)
  • Severe abdominal or back pain
  • Fever lasting more than 24 hours
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Lasting dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Pain that gets worse instead of better

To learn more about abortion and your other options, schedule a free appointment today.

Safe and Supportive Care

We offer free, on-site ultrasound referrals so you can know for sure if you are pregnant and learn more before making a decision. We offer same-day appointments, so contact us today to schedule yours.

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