There is more than one type of abortion procedure. If you’re considering abortion after finding out you’re unexpectedly pregnant, get the facts first. Make an informed decision by understanding the two types of abortion, medical and surgical abortion, along with their risks.

Two Types of Abortion

It’s vital to understand what type of abortion procedure you may be eligible for, as medical abortion is only recommended by the FDA for women through 10 weeks of pregnancy. 

1. Medical Abortion

Medical abortion works to terminate an existing pregnancy. It uses two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, to end the pregnancy. 

  • Mifepristone blocks progesterone, a hormone that sustains the growing pregnancy. Without progesterone, the pregnancy cannot continue.
  • Misoprostol causes uterine contractions and expels the pregnancy tissue from the uterus.

Medical abortion always causes abdominal cramping and vaginal bleeding. Possible risks of medical abortion include:

  • Infection
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Digestive system discomfort
  • Incomplete abortion, which may require surgical treatment
  • An ongoing pregnancy (if the abortion drugs don’t work)

2. Surgical Abortion

There is more than one type of surgical abortion procedure based on how far along a woman is. Typically, a dilation & curettage (D&C) or dilation & evacuation (D&E) procedure will be done.

These procedures are types of surgical abortions and use medical instruments and a vacuum to remove all parts of the baby and remaining pregnancy tissue. A D&C is used earlier in pregnancy, while a D&E is done after 12 weeks and is a more complex procedure.

Surgical abortion procedures come with possible risks, according to the Cleveland Clinic, including:

  • Injury to the uterus and surrounding tissues
  • Extreme bleeding
  • Infection of surrounding tissue, such as the fallopian tubes
  • Scarring, which can cause infertility
  • Allergic reaction to drugs used
  • Leaving behind pregnancy tissue, resulting in the need for additional surgery

We’re Here for You

Pregnancy confirmation is key to understanding your pregnancy and safeguarding your health. Schedule a free appointment with one of our client advocates to talk privately. We are a safe place to get the answers you need about your options.

Start with a free pregnancy test. At your appointment, we can discuss your test results to determine the next steps.