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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:

Common Question
In-Clinic Abortion
Medication Abortion
How does it work?

A doctor or nurse uses medical instruments and gentle suction to remove the pregnancy from your uterus.

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

How well does it work?

It works more than 99% of the time.

8 weeks of pregnancy or less: it works about 94-98% of the time.

8-9 weeks: it works about 94-96% of the time.

9-10 weeks: it works about 91-93% of the time. If you're given an extra dose of medicine, it works about 99% of the time.

10-11 weeks: it works about 87% of the time. If you're given an extra dose of medicine, it works about 98% of the time.

How long does the abortion take?

The procedure usually takes about 10 minutes, but the full visit usually takes a few hours. In some cases, state law requires you to come to the health center for a separate visit before the abortion. Abortions later in pregnancy may take longer and require more visits to the health center.

Your appointment at the health center will take a few hours, and then they’ll give you the pills. You take 2 different medicines, up to 2 days apart. You may take both of the medicines at home. Or you may take one or both of them at the health center. Most of the time the abortion is over within 24 hours after you take the second set of pills. You’ll have a follow up visit or phone call to make sure the pills worked. In some cases, state law requires you to come to the health center for a separate visit before the abortion.

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, about 1 in 4 women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 years old.

You can count on Planned Parenthood for expert, quality sexual and reproductive 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. You can use pads, tampons, or a menstrual cup for any bleeding —  whatever's the most comfortable for you. But your nurse or doctor may recommend you use pads so you can track how much you're bleeding. You can have sex as soon as you feel ready.

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 emotions after your abortion. Everyone’s experience is different, and there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to feel. Most people are relieved and don’t regret their decision. Others may feel sadness, guilt, or regret after an abortion. Lots of people have all these feelings at different times. These feelings aren’t unique to having an abortion. People feel many different emotions after giving birth, too.

It’s rare to have serious, long-term effects on your mental health after an abortion. 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. For spiritual support before, during, or after an abortion, check out Abortions Welcome.

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, and it doesn’t cause depression or mental health issues. Abortions don’t cause infertility either. 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 abortion. The nurses and doctors at Planned Parenthood can give you accurate information about any concerns you have.

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