Surgical Abortion

This outpatient procedure is commonly referred to as a surgical abortion. It is considered surgery, but there is no cutting or stitching involved in the procedure.

First trimester abortion

The procedure typically takes 5-8 minutes depending on the weeks of pregnancy and can be performed while awake or under IV sedation. Please click for more information on our Pain Management Options. The physician will insert a speculum to hold open the walls of your vagina and then numb your cervix with a local anesthetic given by injection. If you’re awake, this typically feels like a pinch. When your cervix is numb, the physician will gently stretch open your cervix using an instrument called a dilator. A dilator is a thin metal rod with a rounded end. The amount that your cervix will need to be dilated or stretched corresponds to the number of weeks since your last normal menstrual period. This takes about a minute or so. You may feel some strong menstrual-like cramps during this part of the procedure. After your cervix is dilated, the pregnancy is removed with gentle air suction. This is typically done with a light air aspiration machine, but may be performed with a hand held syringe if you are very early in the pregnancy. During this part of the procedure you may experience stronger cramping. Some women also describe feeling pressure or a tugging sensation.

Second trimester abortion
If you are more than 14 weeks past your last normal menstrual period, you will need to make at least 2 visits to the clinic for your procedure. During the first visit, you will have an ultrasound, lab work and complete the counseling and consent process. You will then be scheduled to return for your abortion procedure. On the day of your procedure, you will have an early morning appointment. If you are between 14 and 17 weeks pregnant, osmotic dilators will be inserted into your cervix before you have the abortion. You will be awake for this part of the procedure. The physician will insert a speculum to hold open the walls of your vagina and numb your cervix before inserting these dilators. The osmotic dilators work by absorbing your natural bodily fluids and expanding slowly. This helps to open your cervix slowly and gently. After insertion of the dilators, you will sit in our Observation room for a few hours to allow time for the dilators to expand. Our staff will be with you during this time. The abortion is completed under IV sedation (see the first trimester abortion description).If you are between 17 and 21 weeks in pregnancy, the procedure requires an additional visit to the clinic. The first visit is the same---ultrasound, lab work, counseling and consents. At the second visit, you will have the osmotic dilators inserted. You will go home overnight and return the next morning to complete the abortion procedure under IV sedation.

Post Abortion
After a surgical abortion, you will rest in our Observation room approximately 30-60 minutes. The length of time depends on how far you were in the pregnancy and your choice of pain management. During that time, staff will monitor your vital signs and you’ll be given something to eat and drink. We can also provide ibuprofen and a hot water bottle if you’re experiencing cramping. Prior to discharge, you’ll receive both verbal and written instructions for post abortion care. It is very important to keep this information with you so that you may refer to it once you’re home. Please click here for a copy.