Abortion Method Comparison

Comparison of the two types of first trimester abortion

Abortion Pill / Medication Abortion
(Mifepristone or Mifeprex)
Aspiration Abortion
(Suction or Vacuum Aspiration)
1. How far along in the pregnancy can I be?
Up to 9 weeks from the first day of your last period (63 days). Success rates are 96-99%. First trimester is through 12 weeks. Aspiration abortion has a 98-99% success rate. A pregnancy less than 6 weeks may increase the chances of failed aspiration abortion.
2. How long does it take?
  • Usually 2 visits to the provider.
  • Take mifepristone on Day 1.
  • Insert misoprostol in the vagina 6-72 hours later.
  • It usually takes several hours for the abortion to occur.
  • Follow-up visit on Day 4 to 14 to the provider.
  • One visit to the provider.
  • The abortion procedure takes 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Follow-up visit at your primary care doctor’s office or at an abortion clinic in 2-3 weeks.
3. How painful is it?
From mild to very strong cramping off and on throughout the abortion. Pain pills help. From mild to very strong cramping during the abortion. Pain pills help during and after the procedure.
4. How much will I bleed?
Heavy bleeding with clots is common during the abortion. Afterwards, lighter bleeding with clots lasts 9 to 16 days or more. Overall, the amount of bleeding is similar to that of a aspiration abortion, although it takes longer. Usually light bleeding from 1 to 7 days, but may continue off and on up to 2 weeks. Overall, the amount of bleeding is similar to that of the abortion pill, but most of the blood loss occurs within the 5 to 10 minute aspiration procedure.
5. How much does it cost?
$350 and up. The exact cost depends on where you go for the procedure. $350 and up. The exact cost depends on where you go for the procedure.
6. Can the abortion fail?
Success rate varies with the length of pregnancy and protocol used. When it fails, an aspiration abortion is necessary. Over 98% successful. Less that 2% of the time, the procedure fails and needs to be repeated.
7. Is it safe, and can I still have children afterwards?
  • Both medications have been studied and used safely. Complications are rare.
  • Childbearing ability is not affected.
  • Aspiration abortion has been studied for over 25 years. Abortion in the first 12 weeks has a less than 1% complication rate, and is at least 10 times safer than childbirth.
  • Childbearing ability is not affected, barring rare, serious complications.
8. What are the advantages?
  • To some, it seems more natural, like a miscarriage.
  • No shots, anesthesia, instruments, or vacuum aspirator machine, unless it fails.
  • The pregnancy can be ended earlier than with aspiration abortion.
  • Being at home instead of in an office may be more comforting and private.
  • Any support person can be there during the abortion process.
  • It is quick and over in a few minutes.
  • It is highly successful.
  • There is less bleeding (that the woman sees) than with a medication abortion.
  • Medical staff is present.
  • A counselor is usually available before, during, and after the procedure for emotional support.
  • It can be done further along in the pregnancy than with a medication abortion.
9. What are the disadvantages?
  • It takes several days.
  • It is not completely predictable.
  • Bleeding can be very heavy and lasts longer than with an aspiration abortion.
  • If hemorrhage occurs, patient must travel to re-visit her provider.
  • Cramping can be severe and usually lasts longer than with an aspiration abortion.
  • Two visits to the provider are necessary, and possibly more.
  • It fails more often than an aspiration procedure.
  • It cannot end a tubal pregnancy.
  • A clinician must insert instruments inside the uterus.
  • Anesthetics and drugs to manage pain during the procedure may cause side effects.
  • There are possible complications, although in less than 1% of cases.
  • The woman has less control over the abortion procedure and who is with her.
  • The vacuum aspirator may seem noisy.
  • It cannot be done as early in the pregnancy as with a medication abortion.
  • It cannot end a tubal pregnancy.