MEDICAL ABORTION VS SURGICAL ABORTION

In Singapore, legal and safe abortion procedures are readily available to any eligible woman who requests them, in accordance with the Termination of Pregnancy Act. Under the experienced hands of a qualified professional and within the confines of a controlled environment, an abortion procedure is a safe and established way to end an unwanted pregnancy.

Abortion procedures in Singapore can be classified into two main types: surgical abortion and medical abortion. Both, when done right, are proven be effective in terminating pregnancies. Additionally, both medical abortion and abortion surgery—when done by a professional and without complications—do not negatively affect a woman’s chance of getting pregnant in the future.

However, what is the difference between the two, and which is safer?

What Is Medical Abortion?

During this form of abortion procedure, the woman is given Misoprostol (Cytotec), which can be taken orally or vaginally. This pill causes the cervix to loosen and the uterus to contract, resulting in the expulsion of pregnancy tissues. The process, which is accompanied by heavy bleeding and cramping, can be likened to a heavy menstrual flow.

Medical abortion is only done to end pregnancies that are less than 8 weeks.

What Is Surgical Abortion?

Generally speaking, surgical abortion is the safer, less physically traumatic and preferred method by doctors.

For pregnancies between 8 to 24 weeks, there are two ways an abortion surgery can be performed:

  • Vacuum aspiration – This type of abortion surgery is recommended for pregnancies 8 to 12 weeks. Vacuum aspiration involves inserting a cannula through the cervix and into the uterus. The uterine contents are then gently suctioned out using a manual or machine pump attached at the end of the cannula. This abortion procedure is done under local anaesthesia and takes only 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Mid-trimester termination of pregnancy (MTPT) – This type of abortion surgery is recommended for pregnancies 13 to 24 weeks. In this abortion procedure, the cervix is first dilated and softened.

Once this is done, vacuum aspiration is performed to suction out the uterine contents. Following this, curette and forceps are gently used to ensure that the womb is thoroughly cleared out.

MTPT is more complex than a simple vacuum aspiration alone (used in early-stage pregnancies) and may require hospitalization of 1 to 2 days.

Medical Abortion vs Surgical Abortion

While both methods have their advantages and risks, surgical abortion is still the safer, recommended and more effective method. Nonetheless, their pros and cons are listed as follows:

Advantages of Medical Abortion

  • It does not require anaesthesia or surgery.
  • It can be done at home.
  • It is less expensive than abortion surgery.
  • The risk of uterine perforations and damage is lower.

Risks of Medical Abortion

  • It is less safe and effective than abortion surgery.
  • It can only be done if the pregnancy is less than 8 weeks.
  • The risk of heavier and prolonged bleeding and cramping is higher.
  • It cannot be done to end tubal or ectopic pregnancies.
  • It takes longer to complete that abortion surgery.
  • Incomplete or failed abortions (which result in severe complications) are possible.

Advantages of Surgical Abortion

  • It is a safer and more effective abortion procedure compared to medical abortion.
  • In most cases, it only takes a few minutes to complete.
  • It involves less bleeding and cramping.
  • Complications like infections and incomplete evacuations are rare.
  • The process is painless as it is done under local anaesthesia.
  • Medical professionals are present during the entire abortion surgery.

Risks of Surgical Abortion

  • It is an invasive procedure that has a higher risk of perforation and damage; though the chances of that happening is very unlikely in the hands of an experienced doctor and Ministry of Health-accredited facility.

For more information on abortion in Singapore, please contact our clinic at 6455 0050. We will endeavour to address any concerns you may have in a timely and sensitive manner.