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Difference between Surgical and Medical Abortion

At Greenslopes day surgery, two types of abortion are offered: the surgical abortion and the medical abortion. Both types of abortion are used widely throughout Australia and the rest of the world. GSDS has been performing surgical terminations since 1976 and medical abortions since 2014.


There are various differences between the two abortions. For example, the success rate of the surgical termination is 99%, while the success rate for the medical termination is 99% under 6 weeks and 93% between 6 and 9 weeks according to statistics collected from Australia and the United States. The surgical procedure can be performed at our clinic up to 16 weeks 0 days gestation, and the medical up to 8 weeks 6 days.

The surgery most of the time requires a twilight sedation, whereas the medical does not involve any anaesthetic.

Where does the abortion occur?

The surgical abortion is performed at our clinic, generally in one visit, by a qualified and experienced doctor. The medical abortion occurs in the comfort of the patient's home approximately 4 – 6 hours after the second dose of medication.

Mild to moderate pain and bleeding may be expected following the surgical termination, usually less than a normal period. Moderate to severe pain and bleeding may be experienced with a medical termination, usually much worse than a normal period.


There is not much difference in cost between the surgical and medical termination. If the medical termination fails, you may have to pay for the surgical procedure.

  Medical Abortion Surgical Abortion
Success rate 93% - 99% success rate 99% success rate
Surgical instruments Surgical instruments not required. Instrumentation of cervix and uterus.
Sedation No anaesthetic – you may use an oral analgesic to manage pain A twilight sedation is generally administered, however, we can perform terminations with a local anaesthetic
Who performs the procedure? Medication causes a process similar to a miscarriage A clinician performs the procedure
How long does the abortion take? Abortion usually occurs within 4 – 6 hours of second medication The procedure is completed in 5 – 10 minutes although recovery time is required
Follow-up appointments Generally requires 2 visits, however, a follow-up can be performed by your local GP Can be completed in one visit but time in the centre is longer
What gestation can we go to? Used in early pregnancy according to the legislation in each state Used at early and late gestations according to the legislation in each state
Pain and blood lost post-procedure Pain may range from mild to severe. Bleeding may be heavy or prolonged Pain and bleeding post procedure is typically less than a normal period
Where does the abortion take place? The process will usually occur in the privacy of the patient's home Procedure is performed at the surgery

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