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  • What facts do I need to know about abortion?

Abortion is a very safe procedure. Here are the facts about your options, the different kinds of abortion, and what to expect.

What are the different kinds of abortion?

Medication abortion, also known as the “abortion pill,” is when you take medicines that you get from a trained doctor or nurse to end an early pregnancy. In-clinic abortion is done in a health center by a trained doctor or nurse. Both kinds of abortion are safe and effective.

First trimester abortion facts:

 

In-Clinic Abortion

Medication Abortion

How does it work?

A doctor, nurse, or other health care provider uses medical instruments and gentle suction to remove the pregnancy from your uterus.

You take pills that cause your pregnancy to end and your uterus to expel the pregnancy (like an early miscarriage).

How well does it work?

It almost always works – over 99% of the time.

8 weeks or less: 98% of the time

8-9 weeks: 96% of the time

9-10 weeks: 93% of the time

How long does the abortion take?

 

The abortion procedure usually takes about 10 minutes. But you’ll also need to meet with health center staff to talk about whether abortion is the right decision for you and what your abortion options are, have an exam and lab tests, and prepare for the procedure, read and sign forms, and stay in the recovery room after. The full visit usually takes a few hours to complete.

In some cases state law requires you to come to the health center on a separate visit before the abortion.

Abortions later in pregnancy may take longer and require more visits to the health center.

You take 1 pill at the health center, and the second pills 1-2 days later, usually at home. Most of the time the abortion is over within 24 hours after taking the second pills. Before you take any medication you’ll also need to meet with health center staff to talk about whether abortion is the right decision for you and what your abortion options are, have an exam and lab tests, and read and sign forms. The full visit usually takes a few hours to complete.  You will need to follow up to make sure the pills worked.

In some cases state law requires you to come to the health center on a separate visit before the abortion.

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • The procedure is quick — about 10 minutes.
  • You may have less bleeding and cramping afterwards than with a medication abortion.
  • You’ll have the abortion in the comfort of your own home, with whoever you want around for support.
  • It may feel more natural (similar to a miscarriage).

If you need an abortion and have passed your first trimester, you can learn about your in-clinic abortion options.

Is abortion safe?

Both in-clinic and medication abortions are very safe. In fact, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures out there. Overall, three 3 in 10 women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 years old.

Planned Parenthood leads the country with the most up-to-date medical standards and guidelines for health care, including abortion. We regularly review new medical research and get updates from groups like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Serious problems after an abortion are very rare.  But like any medicine or medical procedure, there are some risks. Learn more about the risks of in-clinic abortion and the risks of the abortion pill.

How will I feel after having an abortion?

You will get written after-care instructions and a phone number you can call if you have any questions or concerns. You may have to come back for a check up or lab work after your procedure.

Plan on resting after your abortion. You can usually go back to work, school and most other normal activities the next day. Avoid hard work or heavy exercise for a few days. Don’t put anything inside your vagina (like a tampon) or have sex for 1 week after your abortion.

Most people feel fine within a day or two, but it’s common for bleeding to last for a week (or several weeks after the abortion pill). Cramping can happen for a few days.

It’s totally normal to have a lot of different feelings after your abortion — and there’s no one “right” way to feel. Most people feel relieved and don’t regret their decision. For some, having an abortion is simple and straightforward. Others may feel sadness, guilt, or regretful after an abortion, just as they may after having a baby. Lots of people have all these feelings at different times.

Serious, long-term emotional problems after an abortion are rare. But everybody’s different, and certain things can make coping with an abortion hard. Most people feel better if they have someone supportive to talk to after an abortion. But even if you don’t think there’s anybody in your life you can talk with, you’re not alone. Your nurse or doctor can talk with you, or help you find a licensed counselor or a non-judgmental support group. You can also call Exhale or All-Options, free after-abortion talklines. They will give you confidential and non-judgmental emotional support after your abortion — no matter how you’re feeling.

Will an abortion affect my health?

Abortion is safe. Unless there’s a rare and serious complication that’s not treated, there’s no risk to your ability to have children in the future or to your overall health. Having an abortion doesn’t increase your risk for breast cancer or affect your fertility. In fact, it’s possible to get pregnant quickly after you have an abortion, so it’s a good idea to talk to your nurse or doctor about a birth control plan for after your abortion.

There are many myths out there about the effects of abortion. Your nurse or doctor can give you accurate information about any concerns you have.

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