The Main Difference Between Medical abortion vs. surgical

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Written By Philethia Thomas

There are certainly some difficult decisions to make in life. And whether to keep or not keep a baby is one of those difficult decisions. It’s never easy for anyone. 

When you choose not to keep the baby, you’ll be presented with two other terms. Medical vs. surgical abortion. But what exactly is a medical abortion vs. surgical one? 

In this article, we’ll dig deeper and explain the difference between these two main types of abortions. 

Medical Abortion 

This is a type of abortion that only uses medication instead of surgery. It’s mostly effective for pregnancies below 90 days. It uses the RU-486 or Mifepristone drug—which is normally taken at a certified doctor’s office. 

The drug works by breaking down the uterus lining. This makes it difficult to hold a baby anymore. 

After 24 to 48 hours, you take a second drug called misoprostol. Its main work is to cause the uterus to contract. The contraction then pushes the already-growing fetus out of your body. 

In most cases, your doctor will book you for an appointment to take the second dose of medication. However, some other clinics give the drug, and you can take it alone at home. 

For a better assessment, it’s advisable to return to the doctor for a third appointment. This helps in verifying that the medication was successful. After the examination, you’ll be sure whether the abortion was successful or not. 

After 10 weeks of pregnancy, the medical abortion effectiveness goes down. You will have up to a 97% success rate if the pregnancy is below 10 weeks. 

What to Expect With Medical Abortion 

Medical abortion comes with strong cramps. This happens as your uterus forcibly contracts to push the baby out. Sometimes it’s advisable to get over-the-counter pain medication. 

You’re also liked to experience heavy bleeding with blood clots. The bleeding might prolong up to a period of about two weeks. 

Most medical abortions are safe. It doesn’t affect your likelihood of getting children in the future. And there are rare cases of complications. 

Medical Abortion Risks 

Medical abortion is effective and safe. However, as earlier mentioned, it might not work for pregnancies beyond 10 weeks. But that doesn’t leave it without any risks. The following are the common risk factors that you might expect to experience with medical abortion. 

  • Incomplete abortion might occur when the uterus doesn’t expel all pregnancy. So, seek medical attention if the cramping doesn’t settle after two weeks. 
  • Very uncommon infections 
  • Excessive bleeding 

In short, medical abortion is very safe. It doesn’t have any serious risk factors. But this is only true if you tried it on a pregnancy that’s below 10 weeks. 

Why Choose A Medical Abortion? 

It’s advisable to choose medical abortion if your pregnancy is below 10 weeks. You don’t have to have surgery when everything else can be sorted out safely. Here are the top benefits and reasons for choosing a medical abortion. 

  • No anesthetic required 
  • It’s a non-invasive procedure 
  • A greater privacy 
  • No surgical risks 
  • You can do it from home 
  • It feels natural and doesn’t affect your normal routine 

Surgical Abortion 

This is the use of surgery to terminate a pregnancy. And there are two different types of surgical abortion—aspiration and dilation & evacuation surgery. 

Most doctors prefer the surgical aspiration method when you’re in your first trimester—within the first 90 days. It’s done by first numbing and dilating your service. This allows the insertion of a suction vacuum tube. It’s usually used to suck and empty the uterus. 

However, dilation and evacuation surgery are used when your pregnancy is beyond the first trimester and up to 24 weeks. The procedure is almost similar to the aspiration. It’s mostly recommended when the fetus has been diagnosed with a severe medical condition. It’s also kept in cases where there are miscarriages. 

Surgical abortion takes a short time. It could last for minutes. And you’d be good to go. 

During the procedure, you’re likely to experience cramping. These might lead to bleeding that could go up to 8 weeks. 

Surgical abortion has a higher rate of success as compared to medical abortion. Its effective rate is about 99% for the first trimester. And it only has a 1% chance of complications. And your ability to carry a pregnancy in the future is not affected in any way. 

Clearing the Air About The Surgical Abortion Risks 

Sometimes when people hear about surgical abortion, they freeze. This could be because they have heard all manner of conspiracy theories surrounding surgical abortion. But is it risky? Here are some of the things that you should know about surgical abortion. 

  • Incomplete abortion is uncommon. Only 2% of pregnancies terminated by surgery end up with complications. 
  • There’s no ongoing pregnancy experienced with it. 
  • Very low chances of infection experienced. 
  • It doesn’t damage the cervix. 
  • With experienced surgeons, there are rare cases of perforation of the uterus. 
  • Hemorrhage in the first trimester is rare. 

However, if after a surgical abortion you experience heavy bleeding, discomfort, severe pain, or fever, then consult your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any abnormal signs, don’t wait until it’s too late. 

Why Choose Surgical Abortion? 

Surgical abortion is very safe with a high success rate. This is especially if you’re terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester. It comes with the following specific benefits. 

  • It can be carried out past 10 weeks, unlike the medical abortion 
  • The procedure takes a few minutes 
  • Involves a single clinic visit 
  • There’s less cramping and bleeding associated with surgical abortion 
  • A qualified medical staff does it 
  • It can be done under sedation reducing the pain and awareness 
  • The very high success rate 
  • Low-risk rate 
  • You can continue breastfeeding if you have a young baby. 

What To Choose: A medical abortion vs surgical

The choice of the abortion method is entirely upon you. You can choose the method that feels comfortable to you. However, as previously discussed, medical abortion has a time limit. If your pregnancy is below 9 weeks, then medical abortion is an option. Having a medical abortion for any pregnancy below five weeks is advisable. But if your pregnancy is beyond 10 weeks, you can only have a surgical abortion. 

Also, your doctor might recommend a certain type of abortion depending on your specific medical conditions. For instance, when you’re breastfeeding, the doctor will likely recommend that you get a surgical abortion. 

So, always consult your doctor when you’re unsure which abortion option to choose. Your doctor will assess your medical situation and help you make the most suitable decision. 

Parting Shot 

Whether you choose to use medical or surgical abortion, either is safe. This is especially if you’re carrying out the abortion in your first trimester. Choose what feels comfortable for you. And settle with it. If a licensed medical doctor carries out the procedure, you won’t have any complications. 

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