What’s the Difference Between a Medical and Surgical Abortion?

No matter what type of abortion a woman has, it is a serious procedure. When you introduce different drugs or surgical instruments into your body, you always run risks. Get the facts and be fully informed about the methods, effects, and risks of abortion. Let us help you make the best choice for you, your body, and your unplanned pregnancy.

An ultrasound

Before you can have an abortion, you need to have an ultrasound. An ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that uses sound waves to create an image of what’s going on inside your uterus. It gives you real-time information. You’ll know how far along you are in your pregnancy, where the pregnancy is located, and if it is viable (a heartbeat is detected). Knowing how far along a woman is in her pregnancy determines which type of abortion she will have. Medical abortions are usually performed within the first nine or ten weeks. If you’ve been pregnant longer, you would need a surgical abortion.

Medical Abortion

The abortion pill, also called RU-486, is known as a medical abortion. Rather than taking one pill, it’s actually a two-step process. The first pill, Mifepristone (Mifeprex®) is administered in a doctor’s office or medical clinic. This drug blocks the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is known as the “pregnancy hormone.” It helps the fertilized egg implant in the uterus. The first drug, Mifepristone, thins the lining of the uterus and prevents the fetus from staying implanted. Misoprostol is the drug that causes the uterus to contract, expelling the fetus. Generally, a woman takes Misoprostol hours or even days after the first drug at home.

Side Effects of the Abortion Pill

It is illegal to purchase the abortion pill online, so visiting your doctor or a clinic is necessary. It’s essential to have supervision when you consider the risks and side effects. Here are a few to be aware of:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe abdominal or back pain
  • Nausea and possible vomiting
  • Ongoing fever
  • In some cases, infertility
  • Possible risk of a pelvic infection
  • Emotional and psychological effects such as guilt, shame, and sadness

If you have an IUD, take a blood thinner, or have specific medical issues like kidney or lung disease, or a seizure disorder, do not have a medical abortion.

Surgical Abortion

There are two types of surgical abortions: an aspiration abortion and dilation and evacuation (D & E) abortion. The most common one is aspiration abortion, which is performed up to 15 weeks. After 15 weeks, a woman would need to have a D & E abortion.

 Aspiration Abortion (also known as vacuum aspiration)

The procedure begins with a numbing medication injected into the cervix. Next, the doctor inserts an instrument known as a speculum into the woman’s uterus. The cervix is dilated or stretched open either before or during the procedure. A tube is inserted, which is attached to a suction device. After suctioning out the uterus, the doctor will check to make sure it is completely empty.

Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) Abortion

This procedure begins the same way. The doctor applies a numbing medication and dilates the cervix. Again, a tube attached to a suction machine is inserted to empty the uterus. After removing the suction tube, the doctor uses a metal loop-shaped tool called a curette to scrape out any remaining tissue to ensure the uterus is completely empty.

As you can see, there are obviously several risks and side effects to expect with surgical abortion. Here are a few:

  • Heavy bleeding, including blood clots
  • Intense cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating and feeling faint
  • Fever
  • Possible risk of pelvic infection, tearing of the cervix, uterine perforation, or hemorrhaging
  • Emotional and psychological side effects such as depression, guilt, shame

Let the staff of BsideU For Life help you work through this critical decision. You don’t have to make this choice alone. We offer free, confidential pregnancy testing. If you qualify, we can schedule you for a free ultrasound too. Discovering an unplanned pregnancy can be terrifying. Get the information you need to make the best choice for you and your body. Contact us today.