The risks of abortion vary depending on the abortion procedure used. Medical and surgical abortions have some shared risks, however, including bleeding, cramping, and infection. Keep reading to learn more about the risks associated with abortion procedures.
Risks of Medical Abortion
Also referred to as the abortion pill, a medical abortion uses the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to end the pregnancy and then induce uterine cramping to force the pregnancy out of the body. Like any medication, drug use has side effects and risks.
The risks of medical abortion can include:
- Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
- An ongoing pregnancy if the medication procedure doesn’t work
- Heavy and prolonged bleeding
- Digestive system discomfort
Because the majority of a medical abortion will happen outside of a provider’s office, a woman will need to monitor herself for signs and symptoms of severe complications.
Immediate medical attention is required if the following symptoms arise:
- Heavy bleeding (soaking two or more pads an hour for two hours)
- Severe abdominal or back pain
- Fever lasting more than 24 hours
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
Risks of Surgical Abortion
Surgical abortion is an outpatient procedure in which an abortion provider dilates a woman’s cervix (the opening of the uterus) to expose the pregnancy. Surgical tools and suction are then used to remove the pregnancy. Just like every surgery, surgical abortion has risks.
The risks of surgical abortion include:
- A hole poked through the uterus (called uterine perforation)
- Scar tissue on the uterine wall
- Damage to the cervix
Women are sent home to recover after a surgical abortion, so it is crucial that they self-monitor for signs of complications from the procedure and seek medical attention if they notice any of the following:
- Pain that gets worse instead of better
- Lasting dizziness or lightheadedness
- Heavy bleeding (needing to change pads every hour)
- Cramps lasting more than 48 hours
- Foul-smelling discharge (the fluid that leaks from your vagina)