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Which Type of Abortion is Safest?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. While every abortion procedure comes with a set of risks and side effects, it’s up to you and your partner to determine your comfort level with any of those risks.

Here’s a list of the most common types of abortion procedures, the side effects and risks of each, and factors to keep in mind as you make your decision.

Medication Abortion

Medication abortion goes by a few different names. The abortion pill, medical abortion, and RU-486 all refer to the same kind of abortion.

This procedure typically utilizes two drugs to end and then expel the pregnancy.

The first pill, Mifeprex, uses the drug mifepristone to block your body’s production of progesterone. This causes the lining of your uterus to thin and ends the growth of the pregnancy.

The second pill utilizes the drug misoprostol to cause cramping and contractions to expel the contents of the uterus. It is often taken at least 24 hours after Mifeprex in your home.

Medication Abortion Risks

The following risks are associated with the abortion pill and should be factored into your decision:

  • Prolonged and/or heavy bleeding
  • Incomplete abortion, requiring a surgical abortion
  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Digestive system discomfort

Medication Abortion Side Effects

Like any other medical procedure, the drugs in a medication abortion can cause the following side effects:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

You may be prescribed pain medications and antibiotics to protect against infection and other side effects. Having an abortion at home can be painful, and it’s important to know you’ll have access to your doctor afterward in case of any complications. Although rare, some women need emergency care in the case of ongoing bleeding or infection.

Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortion is a broad category that encompasses a variety of specific procedures. There are several procedures to choose from depending on how far along you are in the pregnancy.

Vacuum Aspiration Abortion

Vacuum aspiration abortions occur in the first trimester and utilize a tube inserted into the vagina and uterus with a suction device to empty the uterine contents.

Dilation & Evacuation Abortion

In the second trimester, most abortions take place via the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure. This procedure is more invasive than a vacuum aspiration abortion. Your medical practitioner will begin by dilating your cervix and then inserting the tube and suction device from the vacuum aspiration. After suctioning, the practitioner may also use forceps and other tools to scrape the inside of your uterus to ensure everything was removed.

Dilation & Extraction Abortion

The final type of surgical abortion happens late in pregnancy and is called dilation and extraction (D&X). This procedure is similar to D&E, but happens in the third trimester and may require a longer recovery period afterward.

Surgical Abortion Side Effects

These are the side effects to be aware of as you consider a surgical abortion; they can increase in intensity the later in pregnancy that you have the abortion.

  • Heavy bleeding—While some bleeding after an abortion is normal, you should call a medical professional right away if the bleeding is prolonged and intense.
  • Damaged cervix or perforated uterus—Because the practitioner inserts tools through the cervix to scrape the inside of your uterus, there is a chance of damage being done to either unintentionally.
  • Infection—Infection can occur after any medical procedure, and the invasive nature of surgical abortion means this is possible after your abortion as well.

Which Type of Abortion is Safest?

As you can see, there are side effects and risks associated with every type of abortion. You need to make a fully-informed decision by having an ultrasound and learning about all of your options before choosing an abortion.

For no-cost, confidential pregnancy services, contact us today.

Our caring, trained staff will help you understand more about your pregnancy and your options so you can make an empowered decision.



  • WebMD. (2019, March). What Are The Types of Abortion Procedures? Retrieved from:
  • American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ACOG). (2015, May). Induced Abortion FAQ. Retrieved from:

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.