Putting Women First

Surgical abortion

Vacuum aspiration

At The Women’s Clinic we perform Vacuum Aspiration up to 15 weeks of pregnancy.

For women who are more than 15 weeks pregnant we will assess and then refer you to a tertiary hospital for surgical management under general anaesthesia.

Pre-operative preparation of the cervix (neck of the womb)

You will be given a tablet called misoprostol one hour before the abortion to soften the cervix. It can cause some cramping or bleeding, but makes the abortion procedure quicker and more comfortable. Should you change your mind this medicine could still cause you to miscarry, therefore you should be sure of your decision to have the abortion before you take the medicine.

The procedure

Surgical abortion is usually very well tolerated. It is a simple and safe procedure when performed by experienced doctors. It lasts only a few minutes and involves no cutting or stitching.

Firstly the operating doctor will examine you internally by placing a finger in your vagina. They will then put in a speculum (small device to open the vagina) and then numb the cervix (the opening to the womb), with a local anaesthetic. Some women notice a pinching feeling which does not last for long as the local anaesthetic starts to work straight way.

The cervix is then gently dilated (stretched). The woman may feel cramping similar to menstrual period pains. Slow, even breathing helps to lessen the discomfort of the dilatation. Pre-operative medication softens the cervix and makes the dilatation much easier to do. An experienced nurse or midwife will support you throughout the process.

The doctor will insert a small plastic tube (cannula) through the cervical opening into the uterus. The tube is attached to a syringe (manual vacuum aspirator or MVA), and is used to carefully remove the contents of the uterus (fetus, placenta, and lining of the uterus).

The suction part of the procedure usually lasts one to three minutes.

Most women feel pain similar to menstrual cramps. For others, abortion is more uncomfortable. Slow, even breathing again helps to ease the cramping.

As soon as the procedure is done, the doctor will perform an ultrasound scan to ensure that the procedure is complete.

Taking the products of the pregnancy home is an option which can be discussed with your doctor or nurse.

Anaesthesia and pain relief

You will be given some pain relief tablets prior to the procedure which will also help with menstrual cramps after the abortion.

Immediately before the abortion you will be given an intra-venous injection of a strong (but short acting) pain medicine called Fentanyl. This will give you a sensation of being mildly drunk and will lessen the discomfort of the abortion.

After the abortion

  • After the abortion you will rest in a recovery room usually for around half an hour.
  • If you have a Rh-negative blood type, you may receive an injection to protect future pregnancies.
  • You will receive written after-care instructions and instruction for how to access care if you experience any complications.
  • You will not be safe to drive a car for 12  hours following the operation.
  • It is common for women to have mixed emotions immediately after an abortion. Sometimes it is helpful to talk about these feelings to a counsellor.
  • We will assist you with contraception including the insertion of intra-uterine devices (IUDs & IUSs) or contraceptive implants (Jadelle). These can be done at the same time as your procedure.

What to expect after going home

  • You can expect to bleed off and on for up to two weeks.
  • You may continue to experience cramps and can pass a few large blood clots for up to 10 days.
  • You should relax for the rest of the day of the abortion but can usually return to work or other normal activities the next day.
  • You can get pregnant very soon after the abortion. Contraception should be discussed with The Women’s Clinic staff before discharge.
  • You should contact The Women’s Clinic if there is heavy bleeding, pain or fever.
  • We do not routinely see you for a follow up in clinic, but are happy to do so if you require one.
  • Abortion begins a new menstrual cycle. A regular period should resume in four to eight weeks.