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Very few things are more frightening than having a medical procedure and finding out your provider didn’t complete it correctly. 

One of the risks for both medical and surgical abortion is an incomplete procedure. How is it possible? Learn more about how much bleeding or cramping is too much and what other symptoms to watch for.

What Are the Two Types of Abortion?

The two types of abortion are medication and surgical. The procedure you qualify for is determined by how far along you are in your pregnancy. 

Medication (also known as the abortion pill method)

The abortion pill method requires you to take two drugs to terminate your pregnancy. The first drug, mifepristone, is highly regulated. 

The FDA approved the use of this drug through 10 weeks of gestation only (70 days from the first day of your last period). Other medical experts recommend not using the drug after 9 weeks (63 days). 

Why do they put a time limit on taking the drug? The farther along you are in your pregnancy, the less effective the drug becomes. 


Providers perform surgical abortion procedures in a clinical setting. The type of surgical procedure you qualify for is determined by the length of your pregnancy. . 

Early pregnancies use suction or vacuum aspiration to remove the pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, the abortion provider uses a sharp scraping tool and possibly forceps to terminate the pregnancy.

Most surgical procedures require dilating (opening) your cervix, which leads to your uterus. The provider does this with medication or instruments. You may also need local or general anesthesia before any procedure. 

What Does It Mean to Have an Incomplete Abortion?

Sometimes, parts of the pregnancy do not completely leave the body during the abortion. As a result, you have a greater chance of infection following the procedure. This is true for both the abortion pill method and surgical procedures. 

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of an incomplete abortion include the following:

  • Heavy bleeding or blood clots
  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Pelvic pain

Up to 40% of women who have abortions in their second trimester (weeks 13 through 26) have a greater chance of an incomplete abortion.

What Should I Do If I Have These Symptoms?

If you have recently had an abortion and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you need to see your provider or visit the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. You may be given another pregnancy test and ultrasound to determine the problem.

How Can Albemarle Assist Me?

We do not perform or refer for abortions, but we can give you factual information about abortion procedures, side effects, and potential risks. You should be fully informed about all of your options before making a decision about your unplanned pregnancy. We can help.

Schedule a free and confidential appointment with us. We’re here for you.

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