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What Are the Different Types of Abortion?

Facing an unexpected pregnancy can feel like you’re getting knocked over by a tidal wave of emotions like fear, anxiety, and shock. But knowledge is empowering, and it allows you to confidently make an informed decision about your unplanned pregnancy.
If you’re considering abortion, we first want to acknowledge how mighty you are to be here educating yourself. So welcome — you’re in the right place to learn about the different types of abortion.

What Are the Different Types of Abortion?

Abortion information can get confusing, so we’ll break it down step by step. First, there are two types of abortion; medical abortion and surgical abortion.

1. Medical Abortion

Medical abortion is sometimes referred to as “the abortion pill,” “RU-486,” “medication abortion,” or “non-surgical abortion.” These are all interchangeable terms referring to an abortion performed with medications taken by mouth or inserted into the vagina.

A medical abortion might be an option for you if it has been 70 days or less since the first day of your last period (10 weeks pregnant). It may not be an option if you have certain medical conditions such as anemia, bleeding disorders, liver or kidney disease, seizure disorder, acute inflammatory bowel disease, or allergies to the medications. You will not be eligible for a medical abortion if you have an intrauterine device IUD in place.
A medical abortion consists of two medications; mifepristone and misoprostol.
When you begin a medication abortion, a clinic will often have you take the first medication, mifepristone, in the office. Mifepristone blocks your body from producing the progesterone hormone, which stops the fetal heart and causes the pregnancy to detach from the uterine lining.
You will then be instructed to take the second medication, misoprostol, at home approximately 24 hours later. Misoprostol causes strong uterine cramping, so the pregnancy is expelled.
It’s important to know that if you change your mind after taking the first abortion medication, you may be eligible for an abortion pill reversal process.
According to Mayo Clinic, side effects of a medical abortion may include:
• Painful uterine cramps
• Heavy vaginal bleeding, including blood clots
• Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
• Chills or a low-grade fever (under 101°)
• Headache
• Sore breasts
• Drowsiness
• Seeing the gestational sac or embryo when it passes
• Risk of complications, including severe infection or incomplete abortion requiring a surgical abortion

2. Surgical Abortion

If you are too far along in your pregnancy for a medical abortion or if you don’t qualify for another reason, surgical abortion might be an option. Surgical abortions are performed in an abortion clinic or hospital.
There are two types of surgical abortions:

Vacuum aspiration abortion

• Performed until 14-16 weeks
• Uses suction and curettes to remove the pregnancy in a clinical setting

D&E abortion

• Performed at 16 weeks of pregnancy and later
• The day before a D&E abortion, laminaria dilating sticks are placed into your vagina to prepare your cervix
• Uses suction, curettes, and forceps to remove the pregnancy in a clinical setting

Side Effects of Any Surgical Abortion Include:

• Bleeding and passing blood clots
• Intense cramping
• Nausea and vomiting
• Feeling faint/sweating
• Risk of complications, including severe infection, damage to the uterus or cervix, and excessive bleeding
In addition to knowing the different types of abortion, it’s also critical to understand when to reconsider. It’s best to hold off on an abortion decision if:
• Anyone is pressuring you to have an abortion.
• A licensed physician has not examined you and thoroughly reviewed your health history.
• You haven’t had an ultrasound to confirm how far along you are and pregnancy viability.
• You purchased abortion pills online.
• You have an undiagnosed/untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI).
• You have an intrauterine device (IUD).

Unexpectedly Pregnant?

If you’re unexpectedly pregnant and considering abortion, Corbella Clinic is here to walk with you each step of the way.

We offer confidential pregnancy services, including education about abortion options, side effects, and risks. Services are always provided at no cost to you.

At Corbella Clinic, we see you and your strength. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and get the compassionate support you need to make the best decision for you.


Abortion pill reversal. Abortion Pill Reversal – Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Watson, S. (2018, December 7). Types of abortion: By trimester, what to expect, and resources. Healthline. Retrieved from

Young, B. (2018, March 7). Laminaria: Benefits, uses, in pregnancy, risks, and more. Healthline. Retrieved from

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