Surgical vs. Medical Abortion
Many women have questions about the different methods of abortion. Here at Eastside Gynecology, we hope to bring you a little more clarity about the differences between these methods through these FAQs.
As a top New Jersey and Staten Island abortion clinic, we strive to give our patients the very best care possible during this time in your life. If you have any other further questions or comments, please make an appointment to see one of our board certified gynecologists.
Q: How far along can the pregnancy be?
A: Medical Abortion (abortion pill): The pill method can be used up to 9 weeks LMP (last menstrual period) or 63 days. Some doctors use this method until it has been 9 weeks and the success rate is approximately 92-97%, but can decrease as the length of the pregnancy increases.
Surgical Abortion: Dilation and Curettage (D&C) abortion is a procedure that is performed on patients who are in the 5-12 weeks range of their pregnancy. Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) abortion is a procedure that is performed on patients that are later in their pregnancy around weeks 13-24.
Q: How does it take for the abortion to be complete?
A: Medical Abortion (Pill): Usually 1-2 visits plus a follow-up visit is required. Day 1 for Mifepristone, and Day 2 or 3 for misoprostol. It is unpredictable when the pregnancy will pass for certain. Bleeding after misoprostol lasts 4-8 hours happens for most women; days for some to complete. An ultrasound at follow-up 7-14 days after Mifepristone will make sure the abortion is complete.
Surgical Abortion: 1 visit plus a follow- up exam is recommended. The actual abortion lasts less than 5 minutes. A follow-up visit in 2-3 weeks at abortion facility or your provider of choice.
Q: Can the abortion fail?
A: Medical Abortion (Pill): Success rates can vary 92-97% by day 15. Surgical abortion is necessary if it does fail. Vaginal misoprostol improves the effectiveness.
Surgical Abortion: Surgical option is over 99% successful, but if it does fail, suctioning will need to be repeated. Early surgical abortion can be slightly less effective (98%).
Q: Can I still have children later in life?
A: Regardless of the method of abortion, abortion is 20 times safer than childbirth. Infections are the greatest threat to fertility, not abortion.
Q: What are the common side effects?
A: Medical Abortion (Pill): Some side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, bleeding, headache, dizziness, fever or chills. There is the possible need for surgical abortion at times.
Surgical Abortion: Cramping, bleeding. Some may experience light-headedness or nausea.
Q: What are possible serious side effects (complications)?
A: Medical Abortion (Pill): Mifepristone will not end ectopic or tubal pregnancies which, if undetected, can be dangerous or fatal. A need for transfusion is also rare. Some women can be allergic to the medications given for the abortions as well.
Surgical Abortion: Injury to the uterus in the first trimester and excessive bleeding is rare. Infection and retained tissue, which would require antibiotics and/or a re-suctioning, are less than %1. Vacuum aspiration will not end ectopic or tubal pregnancies which, if undetected, can be extremely dangerous.
Q: Is it painful?
A: Medical Abortion (Pill): Abdominal cramping, heavy bleeding and clots are common during the abortion process for 4-8 hours. Afterwards, the bleeding is like a period and is common for an average of 13 to 16 days.
Surgical Abortion: Not much bleeding immediately after the procedure, but bleeding like a period is common for up to 14 days after the procedure.
Q: What are the advantages of each method?
A: Medical Abortion (Pill): Mifepristone induces a miscarriage-like process and if it is available it is highly effective and safe for very early pregnancy. Being at home instead of a clinic may seem more private and comforting.
Surgical Abortion: It’s quick and over in a few minutes. If available, it’s highly effective and safe for early pregnancy. Typically there is less cramping and less bleeding time than with the other methods.
Q: What are the disadvantages of each method?
A: Medical Abortion (Pill): It is not completely predictable and can take several days to end a pregnancy. The bleeding can be heavy and lasts longer than a surgical abortion. The cramping can also be server and can last longer than the surgical abortions. It cannot end ectopic pregnancy.
Surgical Abortion: A doctor must insert instruments inside the uterus and it cannot end a ectopic pregnancy. The anesthetics and drugs to manage the pain during the procedure may cause side effects. You may have less control over the whole process like who is able to be with you during some parts of the process. The surgical method may not be able to be performed as early in the pregnancy.
Now that you have some questions answered…
No matter which method you choose, it’s important to be sure of your decision. No one should be forcing you or pressuring you into any decision about pregnancy. Take the time to consider your choices, counseling or further thinking may help. The majority of women do not regret their decision or have serious depression after an abortion. Of course, you may have a variety of feelings.
At Garden State Gynecology, we are always here for whatever decision you decide to make. We are proud to be one of the top abortion clinics in New Jersey and Staten Island. Schedule an appointment today!