Is abortion painful?

Medical termination of pregnancy or abortion is a medical procedure to end a pregnancy. While abortions can cause mild to severe pain or cramping, many females can manage the discomfort.

The experience of abortion is different for all females. The level of pain and other possible side effects that a female may experience largely depends on the type of abortion the female has. The 3 most common types of abortion are:

  • Medical abortions
  • Vacuum aspiration
  • Dilation and evacuation

Here is what a female can expect during each type of these procedures for medical termination of pregnancy- 


  • Medical abortion

Medical abortion is when a female takes 2 prescribed abortion pills to end a pregnancy. Medical abortion can legally be performed in India up to 10 weeks after pregnancy. 

In this abortion, a female is given 2 pills. The first pill is mifepristone, which is given to stop the pregnancy from developing further. The second pill is misoprostol, which causes uterine contractions, which leads to passing out the pregnancy tissues. Some females may experience moderate pain as a result of uterine contractions after the second pill.

Every female who has a medical abortion responds differently. Some females describe the experience and cramping similar to having a heavy period and period cramps. Others may have more intense and severe cramping.

When a female has a medical abortion, she usually passes out the pregnancy tissues within 4–5 hours. A female may experience some bleeding or spotting for a few weeks after taking abortion pills.

Also Read- Medical termination of pregnancy pills or Abortion pills in India

  • Vacuum aspiration- Surgical Abortion

Vacuum aspiration is a surgical abortion that involves the use of gentle suction in order to remove the pregnancy tissues.

The doctor will give the female an injection or medication to numb the cervix before performing a vacuum aspiration. Sometimes a doctor may prescribe a general anesthetic, but this happens in rare cases.

Because vacuum aspiration involves the use of pain-relief medications, this usually does not hurt. However, a female may experience a pulling or dragging sensation during the process due to the vacuum.

Some females may experience moderate cramping for 1 to 2 days after having vacuum aspiration, while other females may experience bleeding or spotting for up to 2 weeks after having this procedure.

Also Read- Home Remedies for Abortion Naturally

  • Dilation and evacuation- Surgical Abortion

Dilation and evacuation (D&E) is also a type of surgical abortion which doctors typically recommend if the female has been pregnant for more than 13 weeks.

The procedure of dilation and evacuation involves the use of a general anesthetic, which puts the female to sleep. This means that she will not be conscious during the whole procedure and will feel any pain.

The doctor starts by using dilators (thin rods) to open the female’s cervix. Then, forceps and suction are used to remove the pregnancy tissues.

After having a D&E procedure, a female may experience mild cramping for 1 to 2 days and may also have spotting or light bleeding for up to 2 weeks.



Medical and surgical abortions usually have low-risk and are safe procedures to end a pregnancy. These procedures are usually not severely painful but the experience may be different for a female.

Medical abortions can cause some pain and cramping as they cause the uterus to contract and expel out the pregnancy tissues. A female can usually manage the pain using over the counter pain relief medications.

A female undergoing a surgical abortion is likely to experience little pain during the procedure. However, the female may experience some cramping for a few days after the procedure. 

It is very important that the abortion is carried out safely by an expert doctor. In case you have more doubts, queries or concerns, or are looking forward to having an abortion, consult our gynecologist online.  

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