FIRST TRIMESTER ABORTION METHODS
1st Trimester Medical Methods
Mifeprex/Mifeprestone (RU-486) - known as the "abortion pill", this drug is approved by the FDA for use in women up to 49 days after their last menstrual period. It usually requires 3 office visits: first to be given the pills (called mifepristone) to swallow (this causes the death of the embryo), second to be given another drug (misoprostol) to expel the embryo (if the abortion has not already occurred), and last to determine if the procedure has been completed. Risks for this form of abortion include bleeding, infection, undiagnosed ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, failed abortion, risk of fetal malformations, and continuation of pregnancy.
Methotrexate - this drug is also FDA approved for treatment of certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis. It is used "off-label" to treat ectopic pregnancies and to induce abortion. It's effective by reducing the growth of the rapidly dividing cells. Given orally or by injection, it is used up through 49 days after the last menstrual period. Side effects include mouth ulcers, low white blood cell count, nausea, abdominal distress, fatigue, chills, fever, dizziness, decreased resistance to infection, and anemia.
Misoprostol - this form of medical abortion uses only the second drug given in the RU-486 method. Typically inserted vaginally, it requires repeated doses and has a significantly higher failure rate than the RU-486 method. It is associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and with potential birth defects in pregnancies that continue.
1st Trimester Surgical Methods
Suction abortion: This surgical method can be performed between 4 and 13 weeks after the last menstrual period.
The cervix may be softened the day before the procedure using a drug placed in the vagina and/or slowly stretched open using bundles made of seaweed, which are inserted into the cervix.
On the day of the procedure, the cervix may need to be opened further; this is done using metal dilating rods that may be painful. Local anesthesia is typically used.
A long thin tube is inserted into the uterus, which is then attached to a manual suction device. The fetus is suctioned out. A loop-shaped tool called a curette may be used to scrape any remaining fetal parts out of the uterus.
For more information on first trimester abortion methods, call 770.723.0772 to make an appointment.