abortion guide

Abortion is a medical term used for terminating a pregnancy, and it falls into two primary categories:

  • Medical abortions - taking medications to end the pregnancy
  • Surgical abortions - a procedure to remove the pregnancy

Abortion is legal in the United States and other countries during the first trimester of pregnancy. The first trimester refers to the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. 

Only a few states allow abortions upto the 24th week of pregnancy, while others disallow it after 20 weeks.

In extreme cases, an abortion can be performed even in the third trimester - only if either the life of the baby or the mother is in danger. 

The type of abortion preferred for you depends upon the following factors:

  • The duration of time since the woman's last menstrual cycle
  • The recommendation of the doctor
  • Personal preference of the woman


Based on the trimester, abortion is divided into the following types:

  • Methotrexate and misoprostol (up to 7 weeks)
  • Medical abortion (up to 10 weeks)
  • Vacuum aspiration (up to 16 weeks)
  • Dilation and evacuation (after 14 weeks)
  • Induction (13 - 27 weeks)

Medical Abortion

Medical abortion is executed by taking two pills in the form of medication, including mifepristone (Mifeprex) and misoprostol (Cytotec). These two medicines act together and terminate a pregnancy. 

You can prefer medical abortion as a valid option only upto 10th week of pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend you to prohibit this method if:

  • You ever had an allergic response to mifepristone or misoprostol
  • Your pregnancy has emoutside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy)
  • You take blood thinners or have certain bleeding disorder
  • You have a kidney, liver or lung disease
  • You have been taking corticosteroids for a considerable time
  • You use an IUD (IntraUterine Device)

How Is It Done?

The doctor will provide you with mifepristone in the clinic or office. This medicine obstructs the progesterone hormone, which the embryo requires to implant in your uterus and develop.

You'll get misoprostol medicine to take home with you. Take it a couple of hours or up to 4 days after you receive the first pill. You can either take medicine via the mouth or by positioning the tablets into your vagina. Misoprostol makes your uterus shrink to extrude the pregnancy tissue.

You'll start cramping or bleeding heavily within 1 - 4 hours after taking misoprostol.

Other common symptoms you will experience after taking the pill are as follows:

  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Passing a small blood clots
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea or vomiting

What Is The Recovery Time?

Most women end the pregnancy within 4 - 5 hours after taking the medicines—others take about two days. You may feel some discomfort after taking the pill, so it's better to take a few days off from work.

Your periods must resume about 4 - 6 weeks after your abortion. You'll begin to ovulate within three weeks after you take the pills. Once you ovulate, you can become pregnant again. Your doctor could suggest you to wait to have sex for a couple of weeks after your abortion.

Medical abortion is unlikely to influence your ability to get pregnant in the coming years.

How Much Does It Cost?

Different clinics offer abortion pills at different prices, although you can expect it to be somewhere between $300 and $800. A few insurance companies provide coverage for medical abortion.

Methotrexate and misoprostol (MTX)

This abortion alternative may be used only within the first seven weeks of pregnancy. 

Methotrexate is an effective drug used for the treatment of different types of cancer. Just as it ceases the cancer cells from multiplying, it stops the embryo cells from increasing. At the same time, misoprostol shrinks the uterus to expel its contents. 

This method is rarely used for planned abortions and takes longer than medical abortions. The doctors prefer this type of abortion only for those women who have a fertilized egg implants and develops outside the uterus. This form of pregnancy is called an ectopic pregnancy and can be fatal in case it persists for long.

Kindly avoid this method if you have:

  • You have an allergy to the medicines like methotrexate or misoprostol
  • You have a kidney, liver or lung disease
  • You use an intrauterine device
  • You have severe anaemia
  • You take blood thinners
  • You often get blood clots
  • You get seizures more than once a week

How Is It Done?

You will get methotrexate in your doctor's clinic or office. It comes as a pill or a shot that you take via the mouth. You'll have to take the misoprostol pills 4 - 6 days later at home, either by mouth or by placing them into your vagina.

The process of abortion will start within 1 - 12 hours after you take the pill. You may have cramps or heavy bleeding for 4 - 8 hours. You may feel a little discomfort, and so you may need to take a few days off from work.

What Is The Recovery Time?

It can take a few days, weeks or months to terminate the pregnancy. In 1-2% of women, this medicine is not that effective. If it doesn't work for you, the doctor may perform a surgical operation. 

Your periods should resume within two months of having an abortion. It does not influence your ability to get pregnant in the forthcoming years. Still, the doctor may recommend you to wait for a week or two before having sexual intercourse again.

Some of the common side effects associated with methotrexate and misoprostol are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Chills
  • Low-grade fever

How Much Does It Cost?

Some insurance companies provide coverage to methotrexate and misoprostol. It's the cost usually ranges between $300 and $1000. 

Vacuum Aspiration

Vacuum aspiration is performed during the first trimester or early second trimester of pregnancy. It is also known as suction aspiration.

Certain people choose vacuum aspiration as the primary method for having an abortion. Others require it after a medical abortion refrains to terminate their pregnancy.

This method may not be suitable for you if you have:

  • blood clotting disorders
  • an abnormally shaped or functioning uterus
  • chronic health problems
  • a pelvic infection

How Is It Done?

This method uses a mild suction to extract the placenta and fetus out of the uterus. You'll get this procedure done at a doctor's clinic or office or a hospital. 

This procedure isn't painful, but you may sense cramping as your uterus will shrink as the tissue is eradicated.

Vacuum aspiration lasts only about 5-10 minutes. You may need to stay at the clinic for a couple of hours afterwards to ensure that the abortion is successful. Some clinics will do the procedure on your first appointment itself.

Vacuum aspiration can cause some of the following symptoms:

  • cramps
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • bleeding or spotting

What Is The Recovery Time?

It causes some discomfort and so takes a few days off from the office. Your periods shall resume 4-6 weeks after the abortion. Avoid involving in sexual intercourse for about a week after you've got the procedure.

In the first few weeks after pregnancy, you should use protection while having sex to prevent pregnancy. Having undergone vacuum aspiration does not influence your ability to get pregnant in future.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of the procedure depends on how low further you have come along the pregnancy. You can estimate its cost somewhere around $600 - $1000. Some insurance companies provide coverage for some or all part of the cost involved in vacuum aspiration.

Also Read: 4 Things That Affect The Health Of An Unborn


Dilation And Evacuation (D&E)

This procedure is generally used during the second trimester, between 15-24 weeks of pregnancy.

The doctor performs this procedure when a woman is delayed getting an abortion or those who have to terminate their pregnancy because of a medical issue or if the fetus has some anomaly.

How Is It Done?

It utilizes a combination of vacuum aspiration, forceps, and dilation and curettage (D and C). The procedure can be performed in more than two days.

On the first day, the doctor dilates your cervix to make it simpler to pull out the pregnancy tissue. On the second day, the doctor utilizes forceps to extract the placenta and fetus, a tube to suction out the uterus, and an instrument named curette to scrape off the uterine lining.

The procedure takes place at a doctor's clinic or hospital. It can be painful, but your doctor can provide you with a numbing medication to avoid discomfort. The procedure completes within 30 minutes. You can go back home on the same day.

Some of the side effects of D&E include:

  • Nausea
  • Cramping 
  • Bleeding

What Is The Recovery Time?

It may cause some discomfort, so take a few days off from the office. The side effects usually persist for about two weeks after you've got the procedure.

Avoid high-intensity workouts for a week after the procedure. The doctor may recommend you not to have sexual intercourse for about two weeks. Your menstrual cycle shall resume within 4 - 8 weeks after the procedure. 

It usually does not affect your ability to get pregnant in future. It would be better to ask your doctor after how long you can try for pregnancy. 

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost for dilation and evacuation depends upon how far you have come along in the pregnancy and where you're getting it. It may cost more than $1500. Some insurance companies provide coverage for this procedure.

Induction Abortion

It is done in the second trimester of pregnancy. It may be considered as an alternative for those women who are past the 24th-week pregnancy and cannot get D&E abortion. This procedure is used in the United States only in rare cases.

How Is It Done?

You'll have medicine that sets you into labor. Your uterus will shrink to remove the pregnancy. Your doctor could also use suction, or a spoon-like instrument called a curette to empty out your cervix.

Induction absorption is performed in a specialized clinic or a hospital. You'll feel severe cramps as your uterus shrinks. The doctor will provide you with sedatives or an epidural to ease the pain.

It may take upto several hours or more than a day to conclude the procedure.

The side effects of induction abortion include:

  • Cramping
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhoea

What Is The Recovery Time?

Take one or two days off from your work to recover from the discomfort caused by the procedure. The doctor may recommend you to avoid sex for 2 - 6 weeks after the procedure. It may take a couple of weeks to get back to normal activities. And having undergone this procedure usually does not affect your ability to get pregnant in future. Don't forget to ask your doctor for how long you need to wait before trying for another pregnancy.

How Much Does It Cost?

As it is done late in the pregnancy, the cost is more than any other abortion types. It may cost you about $3000 or more. Know if your insurance company provides coverage for this procedure.


How To Deal With Mental Distress After Abortion?

A woman usually goes through a range of emotions after having an abortion. You may have a feeling of guilt, regret, shame or relief. Some may even go through a depression phase. Different persons react differently to abortion. 

There are numerous organizations in the U.S. that provide support after an abortion. You can select one and get help in dealing with the situation. If you are unable to recover on the emotional level, consult a psychologist, social worker or therapist. Abortion may affect your partner, too, so include them in such discussions or sessions. 









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