Like every major medical procedure, abortion has side effects and potential risks. Before you decide to have an abortion, get as much information as possible about procedures and what you can expect afterward.

Medical Abortion (aka the abortion pill)

The FDA has approved the use of the abortion pill method up to 70 days (10 weeks) from the first day of your last menstrual period only. The Mayo Clinic states, “These medicines are usually taken within seven weeks of the first day of your last period.”

As you can see, knowing the number of days or weeks you have been pregnant is crucial. Why does it matter? Because the farther along you are in your pregnancy, the greater the potential side effects and risks of using the abortion pill method.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following expected side effects and potential risks:

Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache


  • Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
  • An ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

Surgical Abortion

The side effects and potential risks vary based on the surgical procedure. How far along you are in your pregnancy determines the procedure, pre-surgical preparation of dilation (opening your cervix), and if anesthesia is necessary.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following side effects and potential risks of dilation and curettage (D & C), which uses a sharp spoon-shaped instrument called a curette to scrape the lining of the uterus:

Side Effects

  • Bleeding that’s heavy enough that you need to change pads every hour
  • Lasting dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fever
  • Cramps lasting more than 48 hours
  • Pain that gets worse instead of better
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina


  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Damage to the cervix
  • Scar tissue on the uterine wall
  • Infection
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