Early Abortion Options

By OBOS Abortion Contributors | April 2, 2014

The chart below explains the two methods of abortion available to women in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

EARLY ABORTION OPTIONS

Medication Abortion
(with Mifepristone and Misoprostol)
(also called medical abortion or abortion with pills)

Aspiration Abortion
(also called surgical abortion)

How far along in the pregnancy can I be?

Up to ten weeks from the first day of your last period. Up to 12 weeks from the first day of your last period

What will happen?

The abortion takes place at home.
· Generally, the abortion pill (mifepristone) is taken in person at the clinic. Most women feel fine after taking mifepristone, though some experience nausea.
· At home, 6 to 72 hours later, a second pill, misoprostol, is taken bucally (placed in your cheek to dissolve) or vaginally, as instructed by your healthcare provider.
· The abortion starts one to four hours after taking the misoprostol. Heavy bleeding and cramps last for a couple of hours.
· Check in with the clinic about a week later to be sure the abortion is complete.
The abortion takes place in the office.
· The actual abortion procedure takes five to 10 minutes.
· A physician uses medical instruments in your vagina and uterus to remove the pregnancy.
· A return visit is required only if you experience problems, or if you would like to see a healthcare provider.

How painful is it?

Expect mild to very strong cramps on and off during the abortion, which may be managed (or helped) with pain medication. Expect mild to very strong cramps during the abortion, which may be managed (or helped) with pain medication.

How much will I bleed?

Heavy bleeding with clots is common when you are passing the pregnancy. After that, lighter bleeding may continue off and on for one to two weeks or more. Light bleeding generally lasts for one to seven days. Bleeding may continue off and on for a few weeks.

How much does it cost?

For both types of abortion, the exact costs depends on location, the facility, and timing.

Can the abortion fail?

The pills work 98 to 99 percent of the time. If the pills fail, you must have an aspiration abortion. It works 99 percent of the time. If it fails, you must have a repeat aspiration.

Can I have children afterwards?

Yes. Neither type of abortion reduces your chances of getting or staying pregnant in the future.

Is it safe?

Both pills have been used safely since the late 1988 in Europe and since 2000 in the U.S. Major problems are rare. Medication abortion carries at least 10 times less risk of health complications than continuing a pregnancy. Aspiration abortion is a safe and common procedure that has been done for more than 40 years. Abortion in the first eight weeks is the safest, and problems with any first trimester abortions are rare. Surgical abortion carries at least 10 times less risk of health complications than continuing a pregnancy.

What are the advantages?

· No shots, anesthesia or medical instruments are involved.
· The abortion may feel more natural, like a miscarriage.
· Can be done earlier in the pregnancy than an aspiration abortion.
· Option to be at home or wherever you feel most comfortable.
· You can choose to have someone with you, or you can be alone.
· The procedure is over in a few minutes.
· Less bleeding than with a medication abortion.
· Medical staff members are with you during the abortion.
· It can be done later in the pregnancy than a medication abortion.

What are the disadvantages?

· Takes one to two days to complete the abortion.
· Bleeding and cramps can be very heavy and can last longer than with aspiration abortion.
· Cannot be done as late in the first trimester of pregnancy as aspiration abortion.
· More invasive; instruments are inserted through the vagina and into the uterus.
· Anesthetics and pain medication may cause side effects.
· You have less control over the procedure and perhaps over who can accompany you into the room.
· Vacuum aspirator may seem noisy.
· Cannot be done as early in pregnancy as medication abortion.

This information has been adapted with permission from the Reproductive Health Access Project.