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I'm Pregnant. What are my options?
> Abortion
I want an abortion. What should I expect?
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What should I expect after the abortion?
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Common Questions and Misconceptions
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ABORTION


Abortion means you are choosing to end a pregnancy.  It is important that you fully consider all of your options when making this decision.  Depending on how far along your pregnancy is, you may have different abortion methods available to you.

What Does Having an Abortion Involve?

You will need to make an appointment with a provider, find transportation, and secure funding for your abortion.  Although each woman's abortion options depend on her unique circumstances and preferences, the general information that follows should help you in your decision. 

Surgical Abortion

Having a surgical abortion is a safe, effective option for ending a pregnancy. In the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, surgical abortions are usually provided by a method called vacuum aspiration. This means that suction (from either a machine or a hand-held pump) is used to remove the pregnancy through the cervix (the opening to the uterus).  This procedure is very brief, usually 5-15 minutes.  Although women's experiences with surgical abortion vary, many say that it is "uncomfortable but bearable."   Most women return to their daily activities the day after their abortion. More

Medical Abortion

A medical abortion is another safe and effective method for early abortion.  Generally, medical abortion is used only in the first 7-9 weeks of pregnancy.  A medical abortion uses two medications to end a pregnancy.  The first (either mifepristone or methotrexate) weakens the attachment of the pregnancy to the uterus.  The second (misoprostol) makes the uterus cramp and causes bleeding, which expels the pregnancy.  More

Features of Surgical and Medical Abortion

     Surgical Abortion
    Medical Abortion
 
  • High success rate (about 99%)
  • High success rate (about 95-98%)
 
  • Instruments inserted into the uterus
  • Usually avoids surgical procedure
 
  • Can be done in one visit
  • Requires at least two visits
 
  • Procedure is completed in 5-15 minutes
  • Abortion occurs within 24 hours of second medication for most women
 
  • May be used early in pregnancy
  • May be used early in pregnancy
 
  • Anesthesia or sedation can be used
  • Oral pain medication can be used if needed for cramps
 
  • Procedure is done in a medical office or clinic
  • Some of the process may happen at home
 
  • Health care provider provides the procedure
  • Medications cause a process similar to a miscarriage

How Will I Feel if I Have an Abortion?

You will probably experience a range of emotions.  Most women experience relief although there also can be feelings of loss or sadness.  The most reliable indicator of whether a woman will experience feelings of distress after an abortion is her emotional stability before the abortion.  Choosing to have an abortion is an important decision. The decision-making process may be stressful, even if the outcome is ultimately positive.  Take the time you need to examine your feelings about this decision.  Some of the questions listed below may help you explore your feelings.

  • Who is supporting you in this choice and who opposes your plans?  How does their opinion affect you?
  • What are your future goals and how would having an abortion impact those goals?
  • What are your personal beliefs about abortion?
  • What would it mean for you to continue this pregnancy and become a parent or make adoption arrangements?
  • How do you think you will feel about your decision in one month, one year, five years?

Resources

We recommend the following resources for safe and accurate information.

Kaufman K. The Abortion Resource Handbook. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1997.

photo of woman
Debunking Myths: Will Abortion Make Me Infertile? There is no connection between safe, correctly performed abortions and having children in the future.  Click here for more information about abortion myths.

What Should I Expect? It can be frightening to be in a situation where you don't know what will happen next. Learn more about what you may experience if you choose to have an abortion.

Counting from LMP - When you call a clinic to make an appointment, you will be asked the first day of your last regular period.  This is known as Last Menstrual Period, or LMP. Learn more.
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