Psychological distress symptoms in women undergoing medical vs. surgical termination of pregnancy

Lior Lowenstein*, Michael Deutcsh, Rakefet Gruberg, Ido Solt, Yaron Yagil, Ori Nevo, Miki Bloch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The purpose of this study is to compare the baseline psychological distress and symptom profile of women undergoing either medical (with mifepristone) or surgical pregnancy termination and the psychological outcome 2 weeks after the procedure. Methods: Women (n=200) given free choice of pregnancy termination method, either medical or surgical, were assessed before pregnancy termination by a demographic questionnaire including questions regarding the choice of the method of pregnancy termination, the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), the Spielberger State Anxiety questionnaire and the Rotter Locus of Control Scale. Two weeks after the procedure, the BSI and Spielberger questionnaires were repeated. Results: Women with a smaller number of past pregnancies tended to choose the medical procedure. Reasons for choosing the medical procedure were fear of surgery, anesthesia and of future fertility difficulties. Prior to the procedure, the "medical group" had significantly higher levels of obsessive-compulsive symptoms, guilt and BSI general symptom index score, and a trend for higher interpersonal sensitivity and paranoid ideation. Postprocedure, both groups showed significant decline in anxiety levels and did not differ on most symptom parameters. Conclusions: Women who chose to have a medical termination are marginally more symptomatic before the procedure than women choosing surgical termination. However, both methods of pregnancy termination resulted in significant reduction in preabortion psychological distress level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Abortion
  • Anxiety
  • Mifepristone
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgery


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