What are the Different Types of Abortion?

If you’ve confirmed that you have an unplanned pregnancy, it can feel like a diagnosis of a medical condition. It’s unexpected, it does not fit what you had planned for the future, and now you need to learn what your options are.

Read this article to learn the different types of abortion procedures and their possible impact on your physical and emotional health.

Surgical vs. Medical Abortion


All surgical abortions require a visit to a clinic, but there are two primary types of surgical abortions. The first type is a D&C, also called suction aspiration, which usually occurs within the first trimester.

This procedure involves first dilating your vagina; numbing medication will be applied. Then a narrow tube will be inserted so the fetus and pregnancy tissue can be removed via suction. 

The second type, Dilation and Evacuation (D&E), usually occurs in the second trimester. It requires an initial visit when your cervix is dilated with small dilating sticks called laminaria, and you’ll be given any necessary pain medication or antibiotics. 

The following day, the dilation sticks will be removed, and guided by ultrasound, the physician will also use suction and gynecological tools to remove the pregnancy.


A medication abortion entails two series of drugs. The first, mifepristone, ends the pregnancy by blocking the essential hormone, progesterone. 

Once the pregnancy has stopped developing, the second medication, misoprostol, induces cramping so the fetus and pregnancy remnants can be expelled from the uterus to prevent infection. This procedure is approved up to 10 weeks of gestational age.

Risks of Surgical Abortion

The Mayo Clinic lists the following as potential risks of surgical abortion:

  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Damage to the cervix
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Cramping
  • Scar tissue on the uterine wall
  • Infection

Risks of a Medical Abortion 

Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, the types of possible complications can range. If your pregnancy is less than 14 weeks gestational age, the main risks are: 

  • Incomplete abortion: this happens to about 35 out of 1,000 women
  • heavy bleeding
  • Damage to the womb (which can affect future infertility, according to Cleveland Clinic) 
  • Sepsis: this happens to about 1 out of 1,000 women

Prioritize Your Health

It is important that you consider how abortion could impact your whole well-being, including your physical and mental state. 

At Options for Women Central Minnesota, we offer no-cost pregnancy services, which include free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. 

Ultrasounds are a great first step toward gaining more information about your pregnancy. An ultrasound can tell you the pregnancy’s age and location, as well as whether or not it’s still viable. Up to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, which requires a procedure other than an abortion.
The more information you have, the more empowered you are to make the best decision for you. Contact us today!

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