What Are the Side Effects of Abortion? 

If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy you have three options — parenting, adoption, or abortion. While each option comes with its own unique challenges, it’s important to take the time you need to evaluate the pros and cons of each, including the side effects and risks you might encounter, especially related to the process of abortion.

BsideU for Life is here to help break down the process of abortion, including what it is, what your options are, what to expect, and how to prepare!


What is abortion?

Abortion is the process of ending a pregnancy, either through surgical or chemical means. Abortions are typically obtained when the pregnancy is unwanted for various reasons or, in rare cases, if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Abortions may also be obtained if the pregnancy and/or birth will cause significant health issues for the mother.


What is the difference between chemical and surgical abortions? 


Chemical abortions, also known as the abortion pill, use a two-step chemical process to end a pregnancy. The process includes blocking progesterone receptors and blocking the production of progesterone, ending the pregnancy. The second step then causes contractions to expel the pregnancy tissue from the womb.

The abortion pill can be used through the first nine weeks of gestation and is typically taken at home, or in a two step process of the first pill being taken in a clinic, and the second at home.

Surgical abortions are performed in medical settings by abortion providers and can be performed at any point in the pregnancy, depending on the state laws where the abortion is being obtained.

The exact surgical procedure will depend on how developed the fetus is. However, each form of surgical abortion uses some form of cervical dilation, followed by fetal extraction, using either forceps or a suction device.

What are the side effects of the abortion pill?  

The abortion pill can be accompanied by uncomfortable side effects including…

 

  • Cramping and pain in the abdomen
  • Unusually heavy bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 

 

Are there any serious risks associated with the abortion pill? 


While the abortion pill may come in the form of two seemingly harmless pills, it’s important to be aware of some of the more serious risks you may encounter. 

 
These risks might include…

 

  • Emotional trauma and mental health complications1
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) caused by abortions obtained while infected with Chlamydia2
  • Complications or issues related to fertility3
  • Potentially fatal hemorrhaging and/or infections as a result of retained tissue from incomplete abortions


What are the side effects of a surgical abortion? 

 

Surgical abortions might be accompanied by similar side effects to those of the abortion pill, including cramping, pain, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Are there any serious risks associated with the abortion pill? 


In addition to the above side effects, surgical abortions can come with serious risks including the following: 

 

  • Damage to the cervix, uterus, and other internal organs, which can result in hemorrhaging and long-term consequences 
  • Life-threatening infections due to retained fetal tissue in the womb
  • Mental health complications 
  • The spread of existing infections to other parts of the body  


What steps should I take before I get an abortion? 

 

One important step in gathering information is getting an ultrasound. 

Ultrasounds provide valuable information about your health and pregnancy. They also inform what kind of abortion you should consider based on the age and location of your pregnancy.

Your friends at BsideU for Life are here to help by providing no-cost pregnancy testing, ultrasound scans, and options counseling to help you feel empowered and confident as you make the choice that’s best for you! 

 

Sources:

 

  1. Broen AN, Moum T, Bødtker AS, Ekeberg O. The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Med. 2005;3:18.

  2. Westergaard L, Phillipsen T, Scheibel J (1982). “Significance of cervical Chlamydia trachomatis infection in postabortal pelvic inflammatory disease.” Obstetrics and Gynecology, 68(5): 668-90; Ovigstad E, et al. (1983). “Pelvic inflammatory disease associated with Chlamydia trachomatis infection after therapeutic abortion.” Br J Vener Dis, 59: 189-92; Heisterberg L, et al. (1987). “The role of vaginal secretory immunoglobulin a, gardnerella vaginalis, anaerobes, and Chlamydia trachomatis in post abortal pelvic inflammatory disease.” Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 66(2): 99-102.

  3. Bhattacharya, S. et al. Reproductive outcomes following induced abortion: a national register-based cohort study in Scotland. BMJ Open. 2, (2012).