Thinking About the risks of abortion

What Are the Risks of Abortion?

Think you might be pregnant? Took that first home pregnancy test and now are wondering what to do? First, take a deep breath – you’re not alone. There are resources and help available to you. 

Take the time to think through all your pregnancy options and know the facts – especially if you may be considering abortion. You deserve the best for your health and future. Learn about the risks associated with different types of abortion, and what questions you should get answered first. 

What Is the Abortion Pill? 

The abortion pill, also known as medication abortion, RU-486 or medical abotion, is actually not one pill but a two-step, two-pill process. 

The first step is a dose of mifepristone (or Mifeprex), a pill that is typically taken at a clinic or with an abortion provider. This pill stops the production of progesterone, a pregnancy hormone, causing the pregnancy to stop growing and implanting in the uterus. 

The second dose – misoprostol – is taken many hours later at home. This causes the uterus to contract, expelling the pregnancy and uterine tissue through the vagina. 

Although it may seem easy and convenient, taking the abortion pill is still a serious medical process, and it is highly recommended to consult a medical professional both before and after. A follow-up appointment can ensure the abortion is complete and that there are no further complications requiring medical attention, such as infection or excessive bleeding.

The abortion pill is only approved by the FDA for early pregnancies, up to 10 weeks gestational age. If your pregnancy is farther along than 10 weeks and you take the abortion pill, you may be at risk for incomplete abortion or other complications, so it is imperative you know how far along you are before choosing an abortion method. 

What Are the Risks of the Abortion Pill? 

The following are potential physical risks of the abortion pill, as stated by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Incomplete abortion
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding 
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort
  • An ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work

What Is Surgical Abortion? 

Abortions after 10 weeks gestational age involve a more complicated, in-clinic procedure known as surgical abortion. Typically, surgical abortions are an option for pregnancy terminations up to 20 weeks. 

Dilation & curettage is one of the most common types of surgical abortion. In this procedure, the abortion provider utilizes either medication or certain medical instruments to open (dilate) the cervix. The provider then uses a tool called a curette to remove the pregnancy by scraping or lightly suctioning the fetus and any remaining uterine tissue. 

Sedation may be necessary for this method of abortion, such as general anesthesia. Because this procedure is more involved and requires in-clinic care, surgical abortion also has a significantly higher cost. 

What Are the Risks of Surgical Abortion? 

The Mayo Clinic quotes the following as physical risks of surgical abortion procedures:

  • Perforation (tearing or puncture) of the uterus
  • Damage to the cervix
  • Scar tissue on the uterine wall
  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Dizziness or fever 
  • Severe cramping 

With any method of abortion – the abortion pill or surgical abortion – you may also want to consider the potential mental health effects of this choice to protect your whole-body health. Some women experience negative emotions following an abortion, or sometimes have lasting emotional or psychological effects

How Do I Know Which Pregnancy Option Is Best for Me?  

If you think you may be pregnant and want to be informed on all your options, the best first step is to learn how far along you are in your pregnancy. This will help you determine what options are available to you, including which abortion procedures would be required for that stage of pregnancy. 

You can also find out for sure if other medical concerns may be a factor for you, such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. In these cases abortion would no longer be a solution and other medical attention would be necessary. 

A licensed medical professional can give you the answers you need through an ultrasound. You can receive caring, specialized in-person care and ask as many questions as you need to ensure you are selecting the best choice for your health. 
At the Pregnancy Resource Centers of Central Oregon, all our services are available at no cost to you. Navigate your pregnancy options with our caring staff in your corner, and learn about the many resources available to help. Schedule your free appointment today to get your questions answered.