What To Expect During An Abortion

Choosing to end a pregnancy is not an easy decision. No one takes it lightly, and there are a variety of unknowns that can make the decision feel overwhelming; sometimes finding information and answers online can be difficult as well.

If you’re considering an abortion, we want to help you understand what you can expect both during and after the abortion procedure, regardless of which procedure you choose. We’ll cover the different methods here so you can make a fully informed decision.

Medication Abortions

If you are less than 10 weeks into your pregnancy, then a medication abortion is likely the procedure that will be recommended to you. It usually costs around $500 and is available for early pregnancy termination. Medication abortions involve a series of two pills, one taken at the doctor’s office or abortion clinic, and the second taken at home.

The first pill, mifepristone, blocks your body’s production of progesterone, which causes fetal demise. The pregnancy will stop growing and then it’s time to signal to your body to begin the process of expelling the pregnancy.

That’s where the second pill, misoprostol, comes in. This is usually taken between 24-48 hours after the first pill (though it can be taken sooner), and is generally taken at home. Misoprostol causes your cervix to expand in preparation for passing the pregnancy.

Physical Side Effects

Common side effects you’ll experience during the abortion include mild to heavy cramping and bleeding. Many women also experience nausea and vomiting as their bodies expel the pregnancy. All of these side effects can be experienced for up to two weeks after the abortion, but if they last longer than that, you should contact your doctor immediately for a check-up to make sure everything is okay.

Emotional Side Effects

There are also emotional side effects you may experience during and after your abortion. It’s important to remember that the emotions you feel are valid and deserve to be felt and explored because they’re a gauge to let you know how you’re doing. Abortion is experienced differently by everyone, so know that it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling, whether it’s regret, sadness, grief, or relief. If you need someone to talk to, we have staff members available to help you process your emotions before and after your abortion.

Does the Pill Ever Fail?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the abortion pill fails about 2%-8% of the time. Typically, a failure happens the closer you are to 10 weeks. If your medication abortion fails, you may have to go in for a surgical abortion, and thus pay for the abortion twice.

Surgical Abortions

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant, you’ll need a surgical abortion. This can cost between $495-$695. Depending on exactly how far along you are, you’ll either have an aspiration abortion or a D&E abortion. 

An aspiration abortion starts by dilating your cervix with absorbent rods. Sometimes these are put in a few days prior to the procedure. Once dilated, a long tube is inserted into the uterus and a suction device on the other end of the tube pulls out the pregnancy.

It’s common that you experience side effects like feeling faint and nauseous, cramping, sweating, and bleeding. Other side effects like blood clots, damage to the cervix, and a perforated uterus are rarer but are also possible. 

The dilation & evacuation abortion (D&E) procedure is performed after 16 weeks of pregnancy. It requires dilating the cervix like in an aspiration abortion, and sometimes a shot is administered to ensure fetal demise before the procedure begins. A long tube is inserted into the uterus and sometimes forceps are also used to extract the pregnancy. Finally, the lining of the uterus is scraped to make sure everything was removed. Expect the procedure to last about 15-30 minutes. Your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic to help prevent infection.

The side effects from a D&E abortion are similar to an aspiration abortion – cramping, bleeding, and nausea can last up to two weeks. And though it’s rarer, some women also experience damage to the lining of their uterus or a perforated uterus, infection, blood clotting, and damage to their cervix. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, or if you experience extreme symptoms, you should contact your physician immediately.

Emotional side effects are also common after an abortion. Emotions like relief, sadness, grief, and regret are all possible. Remember that you had surgery, so it’s important to be kind to yourself and rest while you’re healing. If you need help processing your feelings or if you aren’t feeling anything at all, it’s a good idea to seek counseling. We have staff who can sit down with you to help process whatever you’re feeling, free of cost. We’re here for you regardless of your decision, especially if you don’t have anyone else you feel like you can talk with.