You may be thinking about abortion as an option for your pregnancy – and you deserve to have all the information before you decide to make the best choice for your health. As with other medical procedures, each type of abortion has potential risks and side effects that you should know about.
What is the Abortion Pill?
Medication abortion, more commonly known as the abortion pill or RU-486, is a two-step process with two pills taken several hours apart. The first pill, Mifepristone (or Mifeprex) stops your body from producing the pregnancy hormone progesterone, which keeps the pregnancy from growing or attaching to the uterus. Several hours later, the second pill is taken – Misoprostol, which prompts the uterus to contract and the pregnancy is expelled through the vagina.
Since the abortion pill is still a serious medical procedure, it is highly recommended to see a doctor for a follow-up appointment about a week later. This is important to ensure the abortion is complete and no further medical attention is needed due to complications.
Medication abortion is only recommended and approved by the FDA for early pregnancies up to 10 weeks; taking the abortion pill for later pregnancies could cause incomplete abortion or further complications.
Because of the recent Supreme Court ruling, abortion is now limited to the first six weeks of pregnancy in the state of Ohio.
What are the Risks of the Abortion Pill?
The Mayo Clinic lists the following as physical risks associated with the abortion pill:
- Incomplete abortion
- Heavy and prolonged bleeding
- Digestive system discomfort
- An ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
What is Surgical Abortion?
Termination of pregnancies later than 10 weeks requires a more involved, in-clinic procedure known commonly as surgical abortion. In Ohio, this type of abortion is no longer available in state.
Most surgical abortions involve a procedure known as dilation & curettage, where the provider uses either medication or medical instruments to open (or dilate) the cervix, and then removes the pregnancy using a curette, a tool that scrapes or lightly suctions the fetus and any remaining tissue out of the uterus.
Due to the more involved nature of this procedure, sedation such as general anesthesia may be required. It’s also typical for surgical abortion to run a lot higher in cost than medication abortion.
What Are the Risks of Surgical Abortion?
The following are potential physical risks of surgical abortion procedures, as listed by the Mayo Clinic:
- Perforation (tearing or puncture) of the uterus
- Damage to the cervix
- Scar tissue on the uterine wall
- Excessive bleeding
- Dizziness or fever
- Severe cramping
You may also want to consider the potential mental health effects of either method of abortion as well. In protecting your whole-body health, you should know that some women experience lasting emotional or psychological effects. This is commonly reported by medical organizations, such as The Mayo Clinic that states, “having a medical abortion is a major decision with emotional and psychological consequences”.
How Do I Know What Pregnancy Option Is Best for Me?
The first step in considering any of your pregnancy options – including abortion – is to confirm your pregnancy. Your test may have come back positive, but there’s a lot more you need to know about the pregnancy, including what type of abortion you may be eligible for in Ohio, and if other concerns such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy may be a factor.
An ultrasound can help you get the answers you need. Plus, in seeing a professional in person, you can know for sure that your care is tailored to you and your needs. Ask whatever questions you need to put your mind at ease.
Here at the Pregnancy Resource Center of Athens County, all our services are available at no cost to you. We’re here to help you navigate your pregnancy options and prioritize what’s best for you and your health. Schedule your appointment today to get the answers you need.