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Which Type of Abortion Method Is Safest?

Deciding if abortion is the right choice for you can be challenging. You may have heard there are two abortion methods: medical and surgical abortions. What do these procedures look like? Which abortion method is the safest? Before you commit to a decision, it’s helpful to gather more information. An unexpected pregnancy can be overwhelming. You may have a lot of questions on your mind. So where can you go for reliable answers?

Researching the safest abortion method can leave you with a lot of questions. Avenue Women’s Center has provided expert unexpected pregnancy services since 1981. We specialize in equipping women with information about abortion, the different abortion methods, as well as abortion alternatives. You can safely confide any concerns in our knowledgeable pregnancy consultants within a nonjudgmental environment. We are here to listen and help prepare you for your next steps.  

Call, chat, email, or text us to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Darien, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn / Lombard, Naperville, West Chicago, or Wood Dale, Illinois!

How Safe Is a Medical Abortion?

Some women may not be comfortable undergoing surgery for an abortion. Women who opt for a medical abortion may prefer it because it seems less invasive. There are still side effects and potential risks associated with non-surgical abortions. Speaking with a healthcare provider or a pregnancy consultant can help you see if a medical abortion is right for you.

Medical abortion is FDA-approved up to the tenth week of your pregnancy. You may be given two different pills to complete the abortion. The first pill is often called mifepristone. This is usually given to women at the clinic. It can block the progesterone hormone needed to continue the pregnancy. Mifepristone generally does this by detaching the pregnancy from the uterine wall.

The second dose is often referred to as misoprostol. It may be taken 24-48 hours after taking the first medication. Misoprostol usually contracts your uterus and cervix, leading your body to expel the contents of the uterus. There may be mild to intense cramping accompanied by bleeding.

Potential Effects of Medical Abortion

Some women have compared the process to a heavy period with cramps. Other women have reported the discomfort lasted hours or days. Your medical abortion experience may vary based on a few factors. Your pregnancy’s gestational age, your level of pain tolerance, and any underlying health issues. You can discuss these factors with a healthcare professional.

A woman whose pregnancy has implanted outside her uterus is typically not eligible for a medical abortion. If your pregnancy is ectopic, then you may need medical treatment instead. An ultrasound exam can usually alert you to a potential pregnancy complication. Schedule an ultrasound as soon as possible to find out more about this risk.

If you have a persistent fever or excessive bleeding after a medical abortion, it’s recommended you call 911. Becoming aware of the side effects and knowing when to contact a professional can help you prioritize your safety.

How Safe Is a Surgical Abortion?

There are multiple surgical abortion methods. Which one you undergo is dependent upon how far along you are in your pregnancy. You can talk with a professional about various types of procedures to see what you’re comfortable with.

Depending on the procedure, a physician may administer anesthesia. A speculum may be inserted into your vagina to separate the vaginal walls. The physician usually holds the cervix open with an instrument called a tenaculum. He or she may insert dilators to further open your cervix. A suction cannula and other instruments may be used to remove the contents of the uterus.

Potential Effects of Surgical Abortion

The procedure can last 10-15 minutes. Your recovery time may last a few hours or days. Possible side effects may include cramping, nausea, or sweating. There may also be prolonged bleeding or blood clots. In more serious cases, some women have experienced damage to their cervix or their uterus. It’s good to talk about these risks with a professional so you’ll have a better idea of how to handle them.

For the safest result, you may want to take antibiotics to prevent a potential infection. You can discuss your medication options further with a healthcare provider.

Support and Information in an Abortion Decision

Choosing the best pregnancy option for yourself can take time and careful reflection. You deserve to have your abortion questions answered while you contemplate this decision. A healthcare provider or a pregnancy consultant can make themselves available to assist you. As you research the side effects and overall safety of each abortion method, it can be helpful to have a supportive resource guide you along the way.

Are you worried about which abortion method is safest? Avenue Women’s Center understands each woman’s situation is unique. We’ll partner with you in your search by providing accurate information about your abortion choices. Each of our centers also offers free, limited ultrasound exams to inform you about potential early pregnancy risks. Finding out how far along you are and if your pregnancy is likely to continue will provide further insight for your decision. Get the resources you need to make an informed decision you feel confident about.

Schedule your free appointment with us today!



  • American Pregnancy Association (ASA). ( 2017, April). Medical Abortion Procedures. Retrieved from:
  • American Pregnancy Association. (2017, January). Surgical Abortion Procedures. 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.