Surgical abortion

This method of abortion can be performed under a local anaesthetic although some women prefer to have a general anaesthetic.

If you opt for a local anaesthetic then the neck of your womb (called the cervix) will be anaesthetised and you will remain awake throughout the procedure.

But if you prefer to be asleep during the procedure then you will be given a general anaesthetic.

The type of anaesthesia you have will depend upon you and your doctor’s preferences, the stage of your pregnancy and your medical history.

As regards the actual procedure, there are two types of surgical abortion which are:

Which procedure will you have? This will depend upon how many weeks pregnant you are.

If you are between 7 and 15 weeks pregnant then you will be offered vacuum aspiration (also known as the suction method).

But if you are 15 or more weeks pregnant then you will undergo dilation and evacuation.

Preparing for surgical abortion

The preparation is the same whether you are having vacuum aspiration or dilation and evacuation.

You will have been given instructions on what to do before your surgery which will include when to have your last meal and drink, what to bring with you and what the procedure will entail.

The fasting instructions only apply if you are having a general anaesthetic. These include no food or drink at least 6 hours before surgery although you may be allowed a few sips of water shortly before the procedure.

If you have to stay overnight in the clinic or hospital then pack a small bag or suitcase. Include nightwear, toiletries, change of clothes for the next day (something comfortable), any medication (if necessary) and sanitary towels.

At the hospital or abortion clinic

Once you have arrived at the hospital or clinic your details will be checked before you are shown to your room.

You may undergo a series of tests. These will include blood, urine and a check for STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases). You may be given antibiotics to prevent the risk of an infection and/or an ultrasound scan to check the condition of the foetus.

You will be given a consent form to sign. This means that you understand what the procedure involves and the risks involved. Read through this carefully and if you see anything you don’t understand then ask. Do not sign this until you are ready to do so.

You may be given a pessary (tablet which fits inside the vagina) to help soften the neck of the womb before the procedure.

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