Objective: We compared bleeding patterns following early mifepristone-misoprostol abortion with those following early surgical abortions ( < or = 56 days gestation LMP). We analyzed women's reports of their bleeding and clinical measures of blood loss, and modeled the relationships between different bleeding measures and indicators of success and satisfaction.
Method: Using data from a multicenter trial held in China, Cuba and India, we fit bivariate and multivariate models to analyze bleeding patterns, controlling for a range of demographic, experiential and medical factors (n = 1373).
Result: Medical abortion patients perceived their bleeding to be heavier than did the surgical patients; however, there were few statistically significant differences in clinical measures of blood loss between the two groups, and blood loss rarely represented a medical problem. Nationality, far more than actual levels of bleeding, influenced women's impressions about blood loss. Although medical abortion patients saw their bleeding as heavier than did the surgical patients, their perceptions of heavier bleeding did not prevent them from having higher satisfaction levels. One exception was that if bleeding exceeded prior expectations, women with the medical method were more likely to be dissatisfied. Pain and cramps, which often accompanied bleeding, were an independently significant factor in predicting satisfaction with the method.
Conclusion: In order for women to know what to expect with medical abortion, they must be informed beforehand about the level of bleeding that generally accompanies the procedure vs. excessive bleeding that would signal a clinical problem.