If you recently found out about an unexpected pregnancy, you might be looking into pregnancy options. If you are considering abortion, you are probably wondering about the different types of abortion. Here is everything you need to know about abortion procedures and what to expect from each. 

Medical abortion vs. Surgical abortion and what to expect 

There are two types of abortions, medical abortion and surgical abortion. The difference between them is one is an oral medication taken at home, and the other is a surgical operation done in clinic. 

What type of abortion you can have is based on gestational age (the length of pregnancy after the first day of the last menstrual period), viability (the fetus is progressing properly and has a normal heartbeat). 

If the pregnancy is growing outside of the uterus, it is considered an ectopic pregnancy. This is a serious condition which the pregnancy cannot survive, and the life of the mother is at risk if not treated right away. An abortion procedure will not treat an ectopic pregnancy.  

An ultrasound is an important next step to rule out an ectopic pregnancy, learn more about your pregnancy, and what determine what procedure you may be eligible for.  

Medical abortion (abortion pill):  

A medical abortion, also referred to as the abortion pill, is a combination of two pills: mifepristone and misoprostol. It is prescribed to end an early pregnancy, up to 10 weeks. Mifepristone blocks progesterone (a necessary hormone needed to grow a pregnancy) in order to end the pregnancy’s growth.  

The second pill, Misoprostol, softens the cervix and prepares the body to expel the pregnancy. This pill causes heavy bleeding and cramping to expel your pregnancy from your uterus.  

Abortion pill

he abortion pill is 96% effective if completed before eight weeks pregnant, 94% effective at eight to nine weeks, and 92% effective at nine to ten weeks. According to Guttmacher Institute, medical abortion accounts for 54% of all abortions.  

You should never take an abortion pill purchased online. Despite recent changes to online abortion pill availability, the FDA still recommend extreme caution when buying the abortion pill online.  

What to expect when taking the abortion pill:  

You will likely take the first pill, mifepristone, in clinic with your healthcare provider. You will be sent home with misoprostol, which is to be taken in a comfortable place of your choosing up to 48 hours after mifepristone. 

After taking both abortion pills, you will experience strong cramps and heavy bleeding followed by the passing of large blood clots and the passing of the fetus or embryo. It’s important to prepare physically and emotionally for this process, especially if you are more than eight weeks pregnant.  

 The abortion pill may be a more private option since it is taken in the comfort of your own home, but it’s important to consider the possibility of feeling a deep emotional response during or after the abortion process. It’s a good idea to make sure you have support, so you don’t go through this alone.  

Other abortion pill side effects:  

  • Cramping and vaginal bleeding 
  • Nausea 
  • Weakness 
  • Fever/chills 
  • Vomiting 
  • Headache 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Dizziness 

A follow-up appointment will be made 7-14 days after your abortion to confirm the abortion was complete to avoid and prevent infection.  

What if I change my mind after taking the abortion pill?  

If you take the abortion pill and decide you don’t want to go through with it, the abortion may be able to be reversed. Within 24 to 72 hours of taking the first pill, mifepristone, call Abortion Pill Reversal to get connected to a medical provider in your area to start reversal treatment.  

Surgical abortion (in-clinic abortion):  

An in-clinic abortion is a surgical abortion. Surgical abortions can be used within the 1st trimester, but are most commonly used after 10 weeks. Surgical abortion generally works by dilating the cervix and using suction and surgical tools to remove the pregnancy from the uterus. 

Types of surgical abortion based on weeks pregnant: 

surgical abortion

Suction/Aspiration Abortion (up to 13 weeks)  

  • A numbing medicine will be applied around the cervix. Using dilation medication and/or instruments, your cervix will be opened up to allow the suction machine to enter the uterus to remove the pregnancy. Most people feel strong cramping during the procedure. 

    Dilation and Curettage (D&C) (before 13 weeks)  

    • D&C is similar to a Suction Abortion in that it uses dilation medication and/or instruments and a suction device to expel the pregnancy. This procedure also includes a surgical instrument called a curette, a sharp instrument to scrape the remains of your pregnancy out of your uterus. Most people feel strong cramping during the procedure.  

    Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) (after 13 weeks)  

    • This is typically done later in the 2nd trimester and is typically performed over two days to ensure proper dilation. It is similar to a D&C but can require more surgical instruments to remove the pregnancy and may take longer. Most people feel strong cramping during the procedure. 

    What to expect when having a surgical abortion


    A surgical abortion will be performed in a hospital or surgical clinic. Most women are given a general anesthetic or sedation, but if you are awake during the procedure, you will likely experience strong cramping. 

    After the procedure, you may feel cramping and have light to mild bleeding. You will spend a few hours in the recovery room to be monitored for heavy bleeding and health complications. 

    Just like any medical procedure, each has its own side effects you should be aware of and consider. 


    Surgical abortion side effects:  

    • Infection 
    • Heavy bleeding 
    • A hole or tear in the wall of the uterus 
    • Injury to the cervix 

    Serious complications may require additional surgery or hospitalization. 

    Where can I find more information? 

    At Thrive Women’s Clinic we believe in empowering women like you with the information they need to be fully informed in their decisions. Our goal is to come alongside you so you feel confident to make the best decision for you. 

    While we don’t provide or refer for abortion, we do have medical professionals on site to confirm your pregnancy and give you resources to help you move forward.  

    Schedule an appointment at no cost today. 

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