If you are considering abortion, it is essential to learn about the different types of abortions, how they are performed, and their risks and complications. There are two categories of abortion: medical and surgical.
A medical abortion, also called the abortion pill, is a method of terminating a viable pregnancy that uses two drugs.
Mifepristone is the first drug taken in this series, and it ends the pregnancy by blocking the body’s naturally occurring progesterone. During pregnancy, progesterone aids in supporting the growing embryo; without it, the embryo detaches from the wall of the uterus and can no longer survive.
Within 48 hours, the second drug, misoprostol, is taken. This drug causes the uterus to contract, squeezing the pregnancy out of the woman’s body through vaginal bleeding and cramping.
Risks of medical abortion can 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
- Digestive system discomfort
In addition to the risks of a medical abortion, a woman should monitor herself for signs and symptoms of complications from a medical abortion.
Complications from a medical abortion can be severe. Medical assistance should be sought immediately if a woman experiences any of the following:
- Heavy bleeding — soaking two or more pads an hour for two hours
- Severe abdominal or back pain
- Fever lasting more than 24 hours
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
Surgical abortions are performed as outpatient procedures. This means a woman will receive an abortion in a clinical setting and is sent home to recover.
During a surgical abortion, a provider will dilate a woman’s cervix to give them access to the contents of her uterus. They will then use suction and, if indicated, additional surgical instruments to remove the pregnancy from the woman’s body.
A local anesthetic will be used, so the woman will only feel pressure until it wears off. Some clinics will also provide general anesthesia for an increased cost.
Risks of surgical abortion can include:
- Perforation of the uterus (a hole poked through the uterus)
- Damage to the cervix
- Scar tissue on the uterine wall
Since a woman will be sent home to recover, she should be aware of the signs of complications that can arise after experiencing an abortion, including:
- Bleeding that soaks through 2 pads every hour
- Lasting dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cramps lasting more than 48 hours
- Pain that gets worse instead of better
- Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina
To learn more about abortion, contact us and schedule a free appointment. Life Light does not refer to or provide abortions, abortion services, or the abortion pill.