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Why Are Surgical Abortions Becoming Less Common?

The invention of safe surgical abortions made a significant difference to women’s health, but the techniques used to perform terminations in the UK have changed a lot. One of the most significant changes in recent decades has been the introduction of the abortion pill, which has now become the most common option for pregnancy termination.

Introduction of Medication Abortion

Approximately 55% of terminations in the UK are now performed using the abortion pill. The medical abortion has only been available for a few decades and is still uncommon in some parts of the world. For example, women in the US and Australia are still more likely to have a surgical abortion. However, there are some key benefits to the abortion pill that explain why it has replaced surgical abortion as the most common choice in countries like the UK:

  • Taking a pill is easier and less invasive than a surgical termination
  • The abortion takes place after the woman has gone home, so she may be more comfortable and relaxed
  • Most abortions happen early enough for the abortion pill to be effective (before 9 weeks)
  • The risks are lower as there is no need for anaesthetic and no instruments enter the body

Changes in Surgical Abortion

Although medical abortion has become the most common choice in the UK, that doesn’t mean that there is no place for surgical terminations. The most common surgical abortion procedure in the UK is manual vacuum aspiration, which can be used up to 12 weeks. Other surgical procedures are also available. Women may choose a surgical termination because:

  • It is too late for a medical abortion
  • They feel more comfortable with the surgical procedure or want the abortion to happen while they are in the hospital

Having the choice of a medical or surgical abortion can be very important, so while surgical terminations are becoming less common in the UK, they still have an essential role to play in women’s health.

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