Surgical Abortion

Female Doctor and Patient Discussing Abortion

Types of Surgical Termination of Pregnancy

There are different surgical abortion procedures and the method used depends on how long you have been pregnant and your personal choice. Surgical abortions are performed as a day-care procedure so you will not have to stay in the clinic overnight. Discharge times differ depending on the length of the pregnancy and on the anaesthetic used.

Surgical abortion – local anaesthetic (MVA)

This procedure is known as a manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) and is recommended for women who prefer to be awake throughout the treatment and whose pregnancy is up to 10 weeks in gestation.

For the surgical termination of pregnancy, gel is applied to the cervix (neck of the uterus) to help numb the area before a local anaesthetic is injected.  The cervix is then gently stretched using dilators and the contents of the uterus are removed through a suction tube. The procedure takes approximately 10-15 minutes to perform and you are able to eat and drink as normal up until the time of treatment.

Surgical abortion – Conscious sedation

Conscious sedation is a combination of medicines to help you relax and to block pain during a medical procedure. It reduces anxiety and is highly suited to most short gynaecological procedures. It is available for women whose pregnancy is up to 13 weeks 6 days gestation.  Conscious sedation lets you recover quickly and return to your everyday activities soon after your procedure.

Medicines for Conscious sedation are given through a vein in the arm or back of the hand and your observations will be monitored throughout the procedure. You will be awake during your treatment and able to talk to your nurse and doctor, but you will feel drowsy and may continue to do so for several hours afterwards. You may have no or limited memory of the procedure after receiving conscious sedation.

Local anaesthetic is then given to numb the cervix. You may feel some slight stinging which does not last long.  The sedating medicines will help with this. The surgeon then performs the treatment, whilst a nurse/midwife monitors you closely throughout.

After your treatment, you will be supported by a member of staff to walk to the recovery area. Specially trained staff will look after you and monitor your recovery. When they consider that you have recovered from your sedation, you will be discharged. We ask that you have a responsible adult to accompany you home and stay with you until the next day. You will need to arrange for transportation home as you cannot drive or operate any machinery.

Surgical abortion – general anaesthetic

This method is ideal for women who prefer to ‘be asleep’ while the procedure takes place and whose pregnancy is up to 23 weeks 6 days in gestation. This procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic, which involves an injection into the back of the hand that gently sends you off to sleep. The cervix (neck of the uterus) is gently stretched and the contents of the uterus are removed using a suction tube.

Should you choose to have a surgical termination of pregnancy under general anaesthetic, you will NOT be able to eat, drink, smoke, suck a sweet or chew gum from midnight prior to the operation.

Cervical priming

Depending on the stage of your pregnancy, you may need cervical priming.  Misoprostol tablets are given orally, prior to treatment. This will soften the cervix and help to minimise the risk of damage to the cervix.

Abortion Aftercare

Please see Aftercare page.