Blue Mountain Clinic offers two abortion care options: surgical abortion and medical abortion. A surgical abortion is a procedure performed at the clinic in which a clinician dilates a woman's cervix and removes pregnancy tissue through aspiration. A medical abortion is an option for early pregnancy (nine weeks or less LMP) and involves taking medications to induce an abortion.
The information below is meant to help you understand these two types of abortions. Call the clinic to discuss your particular situation with one of our trained counselors. Whether you decide to schedule a surgical abortion or opt for a medical abortion, you will see one of our staff members for counseling prior to the procedure.
A surgical abortion involves minor surgery using dilation and evacuation with an aspiration device. The doctor will numb the cervix and open it through dilation. Suction is then used to empty the uterus. During surgical abortion we offer a relaxing medicine to be given intravenously if a woman chooses. A nurse will administer this drug just before the procedure begins. It often helps women relax but does not make them unconscious. We do not allow women to drive after having had this medication, however, and ask them to arrange for a driver before their appointment.
Many women experience cramping similar to that of a a heavy period during the procedure. Some women experience very little discomfort. After the procedure, women dress themselves and walk to an aftercare room where our aftercare nurse monitors clients, answers any questions and give them instructions for care in the coming weeks.
Women often report that the advantage of a surgical abortion is how fast the procedure is finished, it is done within a medical setting, and they can move on with their day and their life.
A medical abortion, approved by the FDA in 2000, terminates an early pregnancy (nine weeks or less LMP) with medications instead of surgery. The process is similar to having a miscarriage. Medical abortion, also known as RU 486 should not be confused with the morning after pill or emergency contraception. Medical abortion has been successfully used to terminate early pregnancy in Europe since 1990.
A medical abortion involves the use of two separate medications. The first, Mifepristone, is taken at the clinic before 63 days from the last menstrual period. This drug blocks the production of progesterone, the hormone essential in maintaining a pregnancy. Within 6 to 72 hours after taking Mifepristone, clients take another drug called Misoprostol at home. Misoprostol is used to soften and open the cervix, and induce uterine contractions, thereby expelling the pregnancy. Most women will complete the abortion within 24 hours of using the second medication. Abortion using Mifepristone and Misoprostol is about 95% effective in ending a pregnancy. A woman must be willing to consent to a surgical completion if this method fails.
Women choosing a medical abortion need to expect that they will have bleeding and cramping with this method, sometimes for many hours. These are expected effects of the medications. There are no systemic side effects of Mifepristone, however you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, chills and dizziness with Misoprostol. These side effects are usually resolved within 24 hours of using Misoprostol. There are no long term side effects of either medication.
Women choose medical abortion over the surgical alternative for a variety of reasons. Most women choose this method to avoid surgery or because they feel as though they have more control over the process. Whatever the reason, women need to know that having a medical abortion is no less an elective termination of pregnancy. Additionally, women need to be aware that the medications do not magically make the pregnancy disappear, and the process of having a miscarriage can be painful and intense. We recommend that all women choosing medical abortion have a supportive person who can remain with them throughout the process.
Click here for an even more detailed discussion on surgical vs. medical abortion.