A medical or a surgical abortion: Which is safer?

An abortion procedure is a safe way to end a pregnancy, for whatever the reasons are. For many, this is a complex and emotional decision. Therefore, it’s essential to have the right and needed information and access to the best care possible to ensure you make the right choice.

These procedures can be divided into two types: surgical and medical. Both of these procedures effectively terminate a pregnancy and don’t negatively affect a woman’s health or her chances of getting pregnant again in the future. Of course, when done the right way by a professional in an abortion clinic.
Knowing about the two types of abortion procedures leads us to the question: is a medical or a surgical abortion safer? Or maybe they are both equally safe? We need to go through the abortion procedures fundamentals to answer this question.

A medical or a surgical abortion: Which is safer?

What is a medical abortion?

Medical abortion is done to terminate a pregnancy no longer than eight weeks. This procedure implies the woman to take a pill, vaginally or orally. This pill causes the cervix to loosen, the uterus to contract, and the expulsion of pregnancy tissues. 

A medical abortion uses two different medications. The first medication is called mifepristone which interferes with progesterone production. It causes the pregnancy sac to detach from the uterine wall and stops further pregnancy development. Your doctor usually administers this pill. The second medication is called misoprostol, and it makes your uterus contract and shed.

What is a surgical abortion?

A surgical abortion is an in-clinic abortion and can be performed in two ways. One way refers to vacuum aspiration, and the second one refers to mid-trimester termination of pregnancy.
Vacuum aspiration is a procedure that is recommended to terminate pregnancies at eight to12 weeks. During this procedure, the uterine contents get gently suctioned out. This procedure is done under anesthesia and takes about 15 minutes.

Mid-trimester termination is for pregnancies at 13 to 24 weeks. The cervix first gets softened and dilated, and then the contents are gently suctioned. This is a more complex procedure and may require you to stay at the clinic for a day or two.

Before undergoing any of the two mentioned procedures, you must have an ultrasound to determine the stage of your pregnancy. If you’re no more than eight weeks pregnant, you can choose between a medical and surgical abortion, go through the risks they may cause, or decide which one is safer for you. 

Advantages and risks of the two types of abortion procedures

Even though both these procedures have a high percentage of success, they do carry some risks that have to be mentioned. Let’s first see the positives.

Advantages of the medical procedure:

  • No anesthesia or surgery is necessary 
  • It can be done at your home
  • It’s less expensive than other options
  • The damage to your uterus is lower

Advantages of surgical procedure:

  • It’s a more effective procedure
  • It only takes a few minutes to complete
  • Less bleeding and cramping are involved
  • Medical professionals are present during the procedure

Disadvantages of the medical procedure:

  • It’s less effective than surgical abortion
  • It can only be done for pregnancies less than eight weeks
  • It can’t be done to end ectopic or tubal pregnancies
  • Takes longer to complete
  • It involves more bleeding and cramping than surgical abortion

Disadvantages of surgical procedure:

Although rare, possible complications of a surgical abortion procedure include:

  • Blood clots accumulation in the uterus (which requires another suctioning procedure if it occurs)
  • Infection (which can be easily identified and treated)
  • A tear of the cervix (it can be repaired with stitches)
  • Uterine perforation (it mostly heals itself)

Keep in mind that medical staff can solve all of these risks within the procedure.

A medical or a surgical abortion: which is safer?

These two types of procedures are very different, each with its advantages and disadvantages. 

If we exclude the risks that might occur, the advantages of these two types of procedures make it harder to decide whether a medical or surgical abortion is safer for you. When deciding, women need to consider their overall health, the skills and training of the provider of the procedure, particular circumstances, their preference, and the kind of anesthesia available for surgical abortion. This is highly important as the woman can be allergic to its components or, for some other reason, she can’t receive the anesthesia. 

Overall, both of these procedures are safe, and the choice is personal. Still, a surgical abortion is less physically traumatic and performed by doctors. It is a highly successful option for terminating the pregnancy. The advantages of choosing this type of abortion are that medical staff is present throughout the procedure. It involves one visit to the clinic, and the procedure itself takes only a few minutes. 

Final thoughts

Deciding to have an abortion is challenging. On top of that, you need to choose which type of procedure is best for you. But the right to choose is yours. What matters the most is that you receive the safest care possible from experienced experts.

Many women feel that medical abortion feels less invasive and more “natural” because it’s similar to a miscarriage, but it carries more risks than surgical abortion. On the other hand, a surgical procedure can be unpleasant, and the recovery can take a bit longer than after medical abortion.

We hope this article helped you understand the choices available to you. If you need any additional information or help to decide which of the two procedures: surgical or medical abortion is safer for you, feel free to contact us.