Stages of Abortion

Today, home pregnancy tests can detect conception almost immediately. Once a pregnancy has been confirmed, there are different stages determining when an abortion can be performed and what procedure is used:

  • Pregnancies prior to nine weeks can be terminated either surgically or medically.
  • From 9 to 14 weeks, the D&C method or Dilation and Curettage method of abortion is preferred.
  • After 14 weeks, most doctors will opt for a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) procedure.
  • Pregnancies that have reached 20 weeks require more complicated surgical procedures to carry out the abortion. Methods such as saline infusion, prostaglandin induction of labor, dilation and extraction, and induced abortion are used.
  • Abortions during the third trimester of pregnancy are very rare and will be carried out only due to a medical emergency.
Spontaneous Abortion: Spontaneous abortion refers to the loss of a fetus that occurs naturally before 20 weeks of pregnancy. There are several risk factors that can increase the chances of a spontaneous abortion. These include:

  • Increased maternal or paternal ages
  • Chromosomal abnormalities of the fetus
  • Twists or knots in the umbilical cord that restrict the blood supply to the fetus and result in death
  • Problems with the placenta such as low or faulty attachment
  • Multiple births can increase the chance of a spontaneous abortion
  • If the mother contracts rubella while pregnant, there are higher chances of complications with the pregnancy and the possibility of a miscarriage
  • Heart failure, anemia, and respiratory problems can lead to fetal trauma and a spontaneous abortion
  • Severe cases of diabetes or hypothyroidism can affect fetal growth and development and create complications in the pregnancy
  • Any injury or trauma to the abdomen could result in a miscarriage
  • Emotional trauma or shock can cause an abortion as well
  • There is always a risk of abortion when an amniocentesis test is conducted
  • Exposure to chemicals and toxins, alcohol, and drugs can all lead to a spontaneous abortion
  • Lifting of heavy objects or strenuous activity could induce a spontaneous abortion
  • Malformations of the uterus or cervix can lead to a natural termination of a pregnancy
  • Incompatibility of blood groups between mother and fetus
  • Deficiency of vitamin E and folic acid can cause serious fetal complications
  • Defective sperm may increase the chances of a pregnancy not being viable
  • Chemotherapy and radiation treatments
  • In nearly 25% of spontaneous abortion cases, the cause remains unknown

Frequently asked questions
  1. Deaths From Spontaneous Abortion in the United States, Stuart M. Berman, Trent MacKay, David A. Grimes, Nancy J. Binkin, JAMA. 1985;253(21):3119-3123.
  2. Mortality From Abortion and Childbirth: Are the Statistics Biased? Willard Cates, Jr, Jack C. Smith, Roger W. Rochat, David A. Grimes, JAMA. 1982;248(2):192-196.
  3. Abortion reform, RG Bubeck, J Am Osteopath Assoc June 1, 1972 71:842