We’re so glad you are asking this question. Abortion is a major medical decision, and you should know the side effects and potential risks and how to determine if you’re in trouble beforehand. The two main types of abortion are medical and surgical. Which method the abortion provider uses is determined by how far along you are in your pregnancy.

Are You Less Than 10 Weeks Pregnant?

Don’t rely on your period tracker app to give you the correct answer. Tracking your menstrual cycle is difficult unless you have a textbook 28-day cycle. Figuring out ovulation (when you’re most likely to get pregnant) is even more complicated. 

The FDA has approved using the abortion pill method (medical abortion) only through 10 weeks of pregnancy (70 days from the first day of your last period). Although an abortion provider may prescribe the drugs after 10 weeks, they become less effective the farther along you are.

The Mayo Clinic lists a few reasons why you may not qualify for a medical abortion:

  • You are too far along in your pregnancy (they suggest not using this method if you are farther than 9 weeks).
  • You have an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception.
  • Your pregnancy is ectopic (growing outside of the uterus).
  • You have certain medical conditions (such as bleeding disorders or kidney or lung disease).
  • Take a blood thinner.
  • You can’t make follow-up visits to your provider.
  • Have an allergy to the drugs used. The Mayo Clinic has a long list of possible medications.

Some risks of a medical abortion include an incomplete procedure, heavy and prolonged bleeding, and infection.

Have You Been Pregnant Longer Than 10 Weeks?

As you approach the second trimester (around week 13), it may be necessary for you to have a surgical abortion. Once again, the procedure is determined by how far along you are in your pregnancy.

A surgical abortion early in pregnancy is called Vacuum or Suction Aspiration. As the weeks progress, the abortion provider also uses a sharp scraping tool and even forceps to remove larger parts of the pregnancy.

Surgical procedures are usually more expensive than a medication abortion. They often require dilating (opening) the cervix and some form of anesthesia. All abortions involve bleeding and cramping, but with surgical abortion, you run the risk of these potential risks:

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

Want to Learn More?

If you would like to learn more about what side effects to expect and other potential risks of abortion, please fill out our confidential online contact form. New Life is a non-judgmental, safe, and caring place to share your situation and discuss your future. We’re here for you.