There are two different types of abortion: medical and surgical. 

If you are considering an abortion, the type of procedure you qualify for will depend on how far your pregnancy has progressed. 

Read more about the different types of surgical abortion, the criteria for a medication abortion, the symptoms and possible risks associated with each procedure, and recommended steps to take before an abortion procedure.

Surgical Abortion vs. Medical Abortion

There are two types of surgical abortion, depending on the pregnancy’s gestation: dilation and curettage (D&C) and dilation and evacuation (D&E).

Surgical Abortion

A D&C, used in earlier pregnancies, requires the vagina to be dilated, and then the surgeon will insert a tube that will use gentle suction to remove the pregnancy. After that, the physician may use surgical tools to scrape and remove any pregnancy remnants.

A D&E does not require an overnight stay but is usually done in a hospital, and you may be administered anesthesia. You’ll undergo an exam and be prepped for the procedure by dilating your cervix with small dilating sticks called laminaria. You will also receive any necessary pain medication or antibiotics. 

This procedure is similar to a D&C, but uses forceps to remove larger pieces of tissue.

Medication Abortion 

Medication abortion is FDA-approved up to ten weeks of gestational age, so it’s a good idea to schedule an ultrasound to confirm the age of the pregnancy. 

The abortion itself is a two-drug regimen: mifepristone and misoprostol. 

You take mifepristone first to block the hormone progesterone. This hormone is required for fetal development, and without it, the pregnancy will end.

Then, about 24-48 hours later, misoprostol is taken to induce uterine cramping. These contractions force the uterus to expel the fetus and pregnancy tissue.

What Are the Risks of Abortion?

Risks of Surgical Abortion

According to the Mayo Clinic, the risks include: 

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

Risks of Medication Abortion

According to the Mayo Clinic, potential risks of medical abortion include:

  • Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
  • An ongoing unwanted pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

Schedule an Appointment

At Pregnancy Resource Center of Athens County, we offer no-cost pregnancy tests and ultrasounds; both are steps recommended before considering an abortion. 

After confirming the pregnancy, an ultrasound can alert you to critical health conditions, such as whether the pregnancy is ectopic or is no longer viable. Both of these situations may require a procedure other than abortion.

Our trained and compassionate staff are here to offer support, share information about local resources, and allow you to navigate your pregnancy decision in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!