Psychological sequelae of medical and surgical abortion at 10-13 weeks gestation

Premila Wencesiaus Ashok, Haitham Hamoda, G. M. M. Flett, Avril Kidd, Ann Elizabeth Fitzmaurice, Alexander Allan Templeton

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Background Although not much research comparing the emotional distress following medical and surgical abortion is available, few studies have compared psychological sequelae following both methods of abortion early in the first trimester of pregnancy. The aim of this review was to assess the psychological sequelae and emotional distress following medical and surgical abortion at 10-13 weeks gestation.

Methods Partially randomized patient preference trial in a Scottish Teaching Hospital was conducted. The hospital anxiety and depression scales were used to assess emotional distress. Anxiety levels were also assessed using visual analog scales while semantic differential rating scales were used to measure self-esteem. A total of 368 women were randomized, while 77 entered the preference cohort.

Results There were no significant differences in hospital anxiety and depression scales scores for anxiety or depression between the groups. Visual analog scales showed higher anxiety levels in women randomized to surgery prior to abortion (P < 0.0001), while women randomized to surgical treatment were less anxious after abortion (P < 0.0001). Semantic differential rating scores showed a fall in self-esteem in the randomized medical group compared to those undergoing surgery (P = 0.02).

Conclusions Medical abortion at 10-13 weeks is effective and does not increase psychological morbidity compared to surgical vacuum aspiration and hence should be made available to all women undergoing abortion at these gestations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-766
Number of pages5
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • medical abortion
  • surgical abortion
  • psychological sequelae
  • late first trimester


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