Finding out you’re pregnant when you didn’t plan on it can be overwhelming. Many women in this position see abortion as their best option. Before you make a decision about your pregnancy, it’s important to gather information about your options. Abortion may seem like a quick and easy solution up front, but not all abortion options are the same.
Click “read more” under each option to learn more about it.
Abortion Procedures in the First Trimester
RU486, Mifepristone: (Abortion Pill)
RU486, or mifepristone, is commonly known as the “Abortion Pill.” RU486 is only approved for use in women up to 70 days after their last period. That is about 10 weeks along in pregnancy.
Manual Vacuum Aspiration
Unlike RU486, Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) is a surgical abortion method that is immediately effective but much more invasive. MVA can only be performed early in your pregnancy within 12 weeks of your last period. Most MVA procedures take 10 to 15 minutes, but appointments can last up to a few hours to allow for monitoring and recovery.
, thin tube is inserted into your uterus. A syringe is attached to the end of the tube to suction the embryo out. You may be given pain medication or a local anesthetic before the procedure. MVA can cause discomfort, cramping and bleeding. You may also need a second appointment for ultrasound verification that your pregnancy was terminated.
Abortion Procedures in the Second and Third Trimesters
The following abortion methods are generally reserved for when your pregnancy is further along. They require significantly more preparation and are more invasive and expensive. The availability of any procedure is based on the laws of that state.
Suction and Curettage
Suction and Curettage is the most common surgical abortion procedure. It can be performed later in your pregnancy than MVA or RU486. The procedure may take about 15 minutes, but you will likely spend several hours at the clinic for observation and recovery. You may also need to take antibiotics after the procedure to prevent infection. Suction and Curettage commonly causes cramps, bleeding, and abdominal tenderness for several days after the procedure.
First, your cervix will be opened with a device called a tenaculum and several absorbent rods. You may be given a local anesthetic to prevent extreme discomfort. Then, a hard plastic tube will be inserted into your uterus, which is connected to a suction machine. The suction pulls the fetus’ body apart and out of your uterus. A curette – a thin, loop-shaped knife – may also be used to scrape the remaining fetal parts out of the uterus.
The procedure may take as little as 15 minutes, but you may need to spend several hours at the clinic for observation and recovery. You may also need to take antibiotics after the procedure to prevent infection. Suction and Curettage also commonly causes cramps, bleeding, and abdominal tenderness for several days after the procedure.
Dilation and Evacuation
Dilation and Evacuation (or D&E) is one of the most involved and invasive surgical abortion procedures. Because this procedure is only used later in your pregnancy, it can have several extreme side effects. D&E can be performed up to 24 weeks, or approximately six months, after your last period. At this point in pregnancy, the fetus is too large for a suction machine to function properly.
D&E procedures take about 15 to 30 minutes to complete, and require several hours of recovery afterward. They commonly result in nausea, bleeding, and cramping for days or weeks after the procedure. In some cases D&E can result in damage to your uterine lining or cervix, which may make it harder for you to become pregnant in the future.
First, your cervix will be dilated extensively one to two days before your abortion procedure by your abortion provider.
On the day of your procedure, you may be given a local anesthetic to prevent discomfort. Then your cervix will be further dilated using a tenaculum and cone-shaped rods. A shot may be given to ensure fetal death has occurred. Then, the fetus will be removed using a suction tube, a curette, and sometimes forceps.
Abortion isn’t a simple, risk-free procedure. All abortion methods take time and may have serious side effects. As you consider this option, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I pregnant?
- Get a lab quality pregnancy test and ultrasound to see how far along you are and if the pregnancy is viable (has a heartbeat and is in the uterus).
- What are the risks?
- All medical procedures come with the risk of complication. It is your right to give fully informed consent to an abortion procedure.
- Have I considered the alternatives?
- Abortion might seem like the best option with your current circumstances, but it is not the only option. Some women are surprised to find they enjoy being a parent. Others who might not feel ready to parent choose adoption.
- What do I do if I change my mind?
- It is your choice and you can change your mind at any time before the procedure. Don’t let anyone pressure you. If you have already taken the first part of the Abortion Pill, call (877) 558-0333 right away.
- How does the abortion clinic handle complications?
- Ask the clinic about their follow-up or emergency care. Ask them if they have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital.
- What do I know about the abortion provider?
- Find out the name of the main doctor at the abortion clinic and if he or she is licensed and board certified. You can also find out if there are any disciplinary actions or malpractice cases against the doctor at www.abms.org/verify-certification/
- Will I feel pain?
- Ask the abortion provider about your anesthesia options. Usually these options will include sedation, and maybe local or general anesthesia.
- How will I feel afterwards?
- Often, women may feel initial relief. However, many women also struggle with their decision for months, maybe years, after. If this is you, contact Wish Medical today to speak with an advocate for help.
- What are my rights as a minor?
- No one, not even your parents, can legally force you to have an abortion. Contact the police if you are being pressured to have an unwanted abortion.
- Should I get tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)?
- An infection can complicate any kind of surgical procedure. Most STI’s show no symptoms so it’s important to get tested.