How Early Can One Have an Abortion? What to Expect?

It is always better to get an abortion done at the earliest, to avoid any complications. When calculated from the last month period (LMP), around 88% of all the abortions done in the United States are done in the first 12-13 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes, for various reasons, a woman might cross this period and get an abortion later. In such scenarios, you should consider how it will impact your health and whether you will have to consider any law regulations set for getting an abortion.

How Early Can You Get an Abortion?

Actually, it can be as early as 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. This is usually the time when intra-uterine pregnancy is confirmed. In many areas, it is consider "intent to murder" if you try to get an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

So if you are still thinking about having an abortion, especially in the second or even third trimester, you should take abortions laws into consideration. You can find the details of legal situation pertaining to abortion and other information here.

Opt for Contraceptive Measures

Abortion may hurt your body and even damage your ability to have babies in the future, so if you are not planning to get pregnant, you can take an emergency contraceptive pill or morning after pill. This can be used when your contraceptive measure fails – condom tearing, condom slipping off – or having unprotected sex.

Depending on the pill, it can be effective for as long as 120 hours, however, its effect decreases with time. Emergency contraceptive pills should be taken only in time of emergency and not as a regular contraceptive.

Options for Early Abortion

Abortion can be done through various measures, depending on the duration of pregnancy. In the first trimester it can be done medically or surgically. Neither type can reduce the chance of getting pregnant or staying pregnant in the future. 


Medication Abortion

Aspiration Abortion


10 weeks from your LMP

12 weeks from your LMP

How to Do

The abortion pill, also called mifepristone, is taken at the clinic.

After 6-72 hours, next pill, misoprostol, is taken at home as instructed.

Abortion begins within 1-4 hours. Visit your doctor after a week to confirm abortion.

This will happen at the clinic and the process will require around 5-10 minutes.

The contents of pregnancy arere moved from the uterus, through the vagina using medical instruments. Call your doctor if you face any problems.

Pain & Bleeding

Mild to severe cramping on and off during the process. Pain medication can be taken for it.

Later there will be light bleeding for 1-2 weeks, intermittently.

Similar to medication abortion, there will be mild to severe cramping during the abortion.

There will be light bleeding for around 1 week and intermittent bleeding for next few weeks.


Depending on the area, the facility and the timing of pregnancy, maybe $300 to $800 in America.

Aspiration abortion can cost up to $300 - $950 in the US, if done within first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Success Rate


If it fails, aspiration abortion will be required


If it fails, a repeated aspiration abortion is required.


No need needles, anesthesia or medical devices

Feels natural like miscarriages

Done early in 1st trimester

Less bleeding

Shorter recovery time

Professional staff are around

Can be done a little bit later


Need 1-2 days to complete

Bleeding is heavier and longer

More invasive with instruments inserted through vagina and anesthesia applied

What Are the Side Effects of an Abortion?

1. Physical Side Effects

Besides the symptoms we have mentioned in the above chart, some other side effects of abortions are:

  • Nausea, Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Heavy bleeding with blood clots
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Infection or sepsis in uterus
  • Uterus can get perforated or there can be scarring of the uterine lining
  • The cervix or other organs can get damaged
  • Really rare, but death may happen

2. Psychological Sides Effects

No matter what the answer to "how early can you get an abortion" is, you will be definitely affected by it. So the decision of getting an abortion should be made after it has been well thought of. Some of the mental health effects are given below:

  • Regret, guilty feelings and anger
  • Losing self-confidence, having suicidal thoughts or feelings
  • Feeling lonely or isolated, having issues in the relationship
  • Shame, depression and anxiety
  • Eating disorders, insomnia or having nightmares

What to Do After an Abortion

Periods resumes after 4-5 weeks of getting an abortion and it is possible to conceive as well. However, it is important to take care yourself after an abortion. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid using tampons or having sex for the first week after an abortion. But stick to using pads, if you are bleeding.
  • Ensure that you take all prescribed medication you doctor give you including antibiotics.
  • If you get hospitalized within 30 days of getting an abortion, the clinic should be informed about the abortion.
  • You should feel fine and normal 2 weeks after an abortion. If not, contact the clinic.
  • Avoid taking a pregnancy test soon after an abortion as the hormones will still present in the body and the test might still come positive.
  • If you are travelling around in a bus, train or car, walk around or stretch yourself a bit every 5-10 minutes.
  • Ensure that you get plenty of fluids, eat well, avoid alcohol and street drugs for 48 hours, do not smoke and do heavy exercises or lifting heavy objects for 3-4 days.

Hope this article answers the question of how early can you get an abortion and other health concerns. 

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