Listed below is a brief summary of the most common abortion procedures.
Aspiration: 4 to 13 weeks LMP (from the first day of your last menstral period).
In very early pregnancies (4-7 weeks), a tube is inserted through the cervix into the uterus and the embryo is suctioned out. Toward the end of the first trimester, the cervix needs to be opened wider to complete the procedure since the fetus is larger. The cervix is widened with medications placed in the vagina or a thin rod made of seaweed to soften and open the cervix over night. The day of the procedure, the doctor may further open the cervix with metal rods of increasing size. A tube is then inserted through the cervix into the uterus. Suction created by an aspirating machine or a hand-held mechanism is used to remove the fetus. The suction pulls the fetus' body apart and out of the uterus. The uterus is then scraped with an instrument called a curette to make sure the fetus and fetal parts are all removed from the uterus.
D & E (Dilate and Evacuate): 13 to 26* weeks LMP.
The cervix is numbed with injections and then dilators, called laminaria, are inserted into the cervix. Overnight the laminaria expands opening the entrance to the uterus. The next day, the cervix is again numbed, the dilators are removed and the doctor uses special instruments to remove the baby from the uterus. The final step is suction using the aspirating machine. In more advanced pregnancies, additional dilators are inserted on the second day and the baby is removed on the third day.
Medication Abortion (Abortion Pill): Up to 49 days LMP.
The procedure usually requires three office visits. During the first visit, pills are given to cause the death of the embryo. Two days later, if the abortion has not occurrred, a second drug is given which causes uterine contractions to expel the embryo. The last visit is to determine if the procedure has been completed. The abortion pill will not work in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition. If it is not diagnosed early, the tube may burst causing internal bleeding and in some cases death of the woman.
Risks of Abortion:
- Heavy Bleeding
- Injury to the uterus
- Injury to the cervix
- Damage to organs
- Future preterm birth
- Clinical depression
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Post-tramatic stress disorder
- Suicide or suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty bonding with partner or child
- Eating disorders
- Guilt, grief, anger, anxiety
This information is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon to substitue for professional medical advice.