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What are the different methods of abortion?

Kristen Mark
Kristen Mark on behalf of Good In Bed
Administration
There are two types. A medication abortion only can be used early in a pregnancy, within 49 and 63 days. It typically uses one medication to block the hormone that produces the uterine lining; a second medication softens the cervix and causes the uterus to empty. This likely results in heavy bleeding. The vacuum-aspiration method uses moderate suction through a tube inserted through the cervix into the uterus, causing the uterus to empty. The procedure can take up to 20 minutes, not counting an exam and recovery.

Most abortions (88 percent) are performed during the first trimester, using one of two preferred methods: vacuum aspiration or medication abortion. In a medication abortion, the pregnancy is interrupted and expelled over the course of a few days using drugs; in vacuum aspiration, suction is used to terminate the pregnancy in one appointment. In the United States, most second-trimester abortions are done by dilation and evacuation (D&E), which involves dilation of the cervix and the use of instruments. Keep in mind that the length of a pregnancy is usually counted from the first day of the last normal menstrual period (LMP) and not from the day of conception (fertilization). The chart on the following page summarizes the various abortion methods and the stage of pregnancy at which they are used.

Which abortion method is used will depend on how pregnant you are; your medical history, including any medical conditions or drug allergies; the training of the person performing the abortion; the equipment and supplies available; the approaches favored by the local medical community; and your own preferences. If you have a choice of abortion procedures, some factors you may consider include:

  • Effectiveness
  • Duration and predictability
  • Pain and pain-relief options
  • Comfort, convenience, and privacy?will you be in a medical setting or at home when you expel the pregnancy?
  • Whether or not you?ll want genetic testing of the fetus
  • Cost
Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.