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Abortion Methods

Learn more about the most common types of medical and surgical abortions.

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Early Medical Abortion (EMA)

An Early Medical Abortion (EMA) is performed up to the ninth week of pregnancy. With an EMA, a regimen of drugs referred to as the abortion pill is used to perform the abortion.

How the Abortion Pill Works

The Abortion Pill, officially known as RU-486, Mifeprex™, and mifepristone, is a standard early abortion method in the United States used for abortions up to 10 weeks of a woman’s last menstrual period. Though it is referred to as the abortion pill, it actually involves two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol.

Mifepristone – the first round of medication is designed to stop your body’s production of progesterone, a hormone necessary for the development and growth of a gestating embryo during pregnancy.

Misoprostol – the second round of medication used to induce cramping and contractions to expel the contents of the pregnancy.

Abortion Pill is FDA-Approved

The abortion pill drug regimen is approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for use in women up to 10 weeks after the start of their last menstrual period. According to the FDA, Mifepristone must be prescribed by a healthcare provider that meets certain qualifications.

The FDA does not recommend abortion pills be purchased online since “The FDA does not have regulatory oversight of prescription medicines from outside the legitimate U.S. drug supply chain; therefore, the FDA cannot ensure the safety, effectiveness, or quality of those medications.”

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Abortion Pill Symptoms & Side-Effects

Cramping and bleeding are expected when taking the abortion pill. Bleeding may be like a heavy period and can last up to sixteen days, possibly up to thirty days.

Additional side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Abortion Pill Potential Complications

Like any drug, the abortion pill comes with potential negative complications. Possible complications of the abortion pill can include but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding requiring surgery to stop
  • Incomplete/missed abortion
  • Unaffected pregnancy

Before taking the abortion pill, it is imperative that you understand the risks, side effects, and possible complications of the abortion pill. Discuss this information with your healthcare provider so you can make an informed decision.

It is also essential that you follow up with your doctor one to two weeks after completing the abortion pill medication regimen to ensure there are no complications present.

Abortion Pill Reversal

If you have taken the first round of the abortion pill regimen, if you regret taking the pill and do not want to complete the abortion, abortion pill reversal is possible. Just like mifepristone functions by blocking the production of progesterone, abortion pill reversal functions by administering doses of progesterone to the patient to support the growth and development during pregnancy.

Timing is everything when it comes to successfully reversing the effects of the abortion pill. If you are having second thoughts about completing the abortion pill regimen, contact the abortion pill reversal hotline immediately.

Vacuum Aspiration

A vacuum aspiration abortion procedure is a procedure where the contents of the uterus are emptied via vacuum and suction. A vacuum aspiration abortion procedure is typically utilized for first-trimester pregnancies up to 12 weeks pregnant.

A vacuum aspiration abortion can be performed with a manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) or electrical vacuum aspiration (EVA), depending on how far along the pregnancy has developed.

In a manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) procedure, a plastic tube device called a cannula is connected to a syringe used to suction out the contents of the uterus. In an electrical vacuum aspiration (EVA), an electrical device is used to provide continuous suction.

Prior to a vacuum aspiration procedure, the cervix typically has to be dilated.

Symptoms of a vacuum aspiration abortion will include vaginal bleeding, though it is reportedly less severe than the bleeding involved in other abortion procedures.

It is recommended that if anesthesia is used for the procedure, patients be careful not to drive or attempt, operate machinery, or perform any tasks that require concentration for the first 48 hours after an abortion.

When to See a Physician

If you experience any of the following symptoms after an abortion procedure, contact your doctor immediately and seek medical treatment.

  • Fever over 100 degrees or chills
  • Excessive bleeding (soaking one pad per hour for three straight hours)
  • Bad cramps unrelieved by ibuprofen or Tylenol or prolonged abdominal pain

Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)

A dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure, otherwise known as a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, is performed for pregnancies that are at 13 weeks or more progressed. This procedure involves using small instruments to dilate or expand the cervix, the lower part of the uterus. A sharp instrument called a curette is then used to dismantle and remove the contents of the uterus.

D&E Procedure Risks

Complications from dilation and curettage are rare. However, there are risks, including:

  • Puncture or tear in the uterus. A tear in the uterus can occur when a surgical instrument pokes a hole in the uterus. This is more common in women who were recently pregnant and women who have gone through menopause. Most tears heal naturally. However, if there is damage to a blood vessel or other organ, a procedure might be necessary to repair the fissure.
  • Damage to the cervix. If the cervix is torn during a D&E, your provider can apply pressure or medicine to stop the bleeding or can close the wound with stitches (sutures). This might be prevented if the cervix is softened with medication before the procedure.
  • Scar tissue on the uterine wall. A D&E procedure rarely results in scar tissue in the uterus, a condition known as Asherman’s syndrome. Asherman’s syndrome occurs most often when a D&E is conducted after a miscarriage or delivery. This can lead to unusual, absent, or painful menstrual cycles, future miscarriages, and infertility. It can often be treated with surgery.

Abortion Pill Reversal.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration.