Abortion Methods

If you are considering abortion, here are some un-biased facts about the treatment options available to you.

The type of abortion depends on the stage of pregnancy – often referred to as gestation. Generally speaking, the sooner the decision to terminate the pregnancy is taken, the easier and safer it is to proceed with the treatment.

There are two main methods of abortion: medical and surgical.

Medical Abortion – ‘The Abortion Pill’

Medical abortions are usually available for women who have been pregnant for less than 9 weeks (also called gestation). It involves taking two sets of pills which create a process similar to a miscarriage. If the gestation is over 9 weeks, then you may need to have a surgical procedure in a clinic.

Surgical Abortion – In Clinic Abortion

Woman icon facing away

Early surgical - aspiration

Early Surgical abortions are available for women who have been pregnant from 6 weeks to usually 12 weeks. The procedure involves removing the pregnancy via aspiration/suction. The procedure lasts 10-15 minutes depending on the gestation but recovery may require you to stay at the clinic abroad for a few hours.

Later surgical – dilatation and evacuation

This method is performed after 12 weeks of gestation. It usually takes 15-30 minutes depending on the gestation stage.

Late surgical abortion – dilatation and extraction

The dilatation and extraction procedure is used after 19 weeks of gestation. The availability of this procedure is based on the laws of that country. In England, for example, the legal limit is 24 weeks under the Abortion Act 1967.

Is abortion painful?

Depending on the treatment type and gestation stage, your abortion provider abroad can give you anaesthetics, sedation options, pain relief and antibiotics as appropriate. Some women do describe a feeling of uncomfortable pressure and/or pain similar to menstrual cramps.

Will I have to stay overnight abroad?

This will depend on your gestation stage, treatment type (medical or surgical) and the type of anaesthetics you opt for. Each abortion provider you select abroad will have different guidelines but if it is a short flight, you may be able to go home on the same day. Otherwise, you may need to stay overnight depending on your treatment type. You will be advised during your consultation.  

Dating the pregnancy – gestation stage

A dating scan performed by a medical professional - usually a nurse is the only precise way to assess how long the pregnancy is. This in turn, will help determine which abortion method would be most suitable if you want to access treatment abroad. We offer dating scans at Reproductive Choices. 

The scan/sonogram will also help to determine if the pregnancy is Ectopic– (meaning if it is growing as it should do in the uterus), or if it is a missed miscarriage. This is why a scan is such an important thing to do before booking an appointment with an abortion provider abroad.

See our dating scan fees.

Digital pregnancy test vs accurate dating scans

Be aware of digital pregnancy tests - they often don’t display over 5 weeks of pregnancy.

So you might think you are 5 weeks along but may actually be further ahead.

Buying the Abortion Pill online

If you’ve heard that there are abortion pills you can buy online and take at home, we strongly recommend that you do not buy them or take them without proper medical supervision. We know that you might be in a delicate financial situation but still do not recommend that you access medication over the internet. It is currently illegal to take the “abortion pill” in Ireland and you could be prosecuted.

If you have taken abortion pills via the internet, we urge you to get in touch with us if you are experiencing the following:

  • You think you are still pregnant several days afterwards
  • You have a high temperature
  • You are feeling unwell
  • You have a smelly discharge or vaginal itch or soreness
  • You’re concerned about how much blood you’re losing
  • Or if you want a check up to ensure it has worked

Post Abortion Check-ups

We offer post abortion check-ups.

View our post-abortion check-up fees. 

Can't find what you're looking for?
Looking for a list of our trusted support agencies?