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Surgical Abortion Procedure

This Page Outlines the Clinics Surgical Abortion Process

The surgical abortion generally takes about 10 minutes to complete and there are NO sharp instruments.

Please be Sure to Check the Following Additional Resources:

Abortion Frequently Asked Questions

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Understanding the Surgical Procedure Process

First, you’ll be draped with a sheet from the waist down.

The doctor will give you a pain medication that relaxes you and helps with any strong cramping you may feel.

Then the doctor does a pelvic exam to determine the size and position of your uterus. For those who have never had a pelvic exam, the doctor puts on a latex glove, inserts 2 fingers gently into the vagina, and presses firmly on your abdomen with his other hand. This takes a few seconds.

The doctor will insert the speculum, the same instrument used during a routine pap smear, into the vagina, so he can view the cervix. If you’ve never had a pap smear it is not a problem. It just feels a little uncomfortable, but will NOT hurt.

The cervix is then numbed with a local anesthetic, and in a few minutes it will take effect. From there the doctor dilates, (or opens) the cervix about the width of your little finger. This only takes about one minute.

You may feel uncomfortable cramping, so do slow deep breathing at this time. The doctor completes the abortion by slipping a small plastic tube into the opened cervix and connects it to a small machine called “the aspirator.” When you hear the sound of the aspirator, YOU’LL KNOW YOU ARE ALMOST FINISHED.

The aspirator quickly and easily removes the pregnancy by means of a gentle suction. Continue your slow deep breathing. The assisstant will then take you to the recovery room.

Here you’ll have a seat in a comfortable recliner. You’ll be in the recovery room for 30 minutes to an hour. You will have a blood pressure monitor checking your pulse and blood pressure every ten minutes for the next 30 minutes. The nurse will ask you to go to the restroom and check your bleeding. If she feels that your bleeding is normal and that the medication has worn off she will then discharge you.

You will be given your antibiotics and birth control with instructions on taking them. Any other medications or prescriptions that the doctor ordered will be also given and explained to you at that time.

Once you are discharged from the recovery room, feel free to leave and get something to eat. Most patients are hungry and ready to go home.

Possible Complications and Aftercare:

One possible complication is infection. To help prevent an infection, you will receive a prescription for antibiotics. It is important to get the prescription filled and to take the antibiotics the same day of your procedure. Avoid sexual intercourse, douching, and using tampons for 3 weeks.

Another possible risk is incomplete abortion. This means tissue from the pregnancy is still inside the uterus after the abortion. Signs would be heavy bleeding, severe cramping, and bleeding past 3 weeks.

A missed abortion happens in less than 1% of cases. The three week checkup is important so that you and the doctor know that you are no longer pregnant.

Another possible complication is a tear in the uterus or cervix, bowel, or bladder. The possibility is less than a 1% chance, but it could require removing the uterus, which means you could not have children in the future. You can help keep this complication rare by lying still during the procedure, which most women are able to do.

Other possible, rare complications are covered on the consent form.

Normal bleeding and cramping varies from person to person. Bleeding 1 to 5 days is common, but it could continue lightly for up to 3 weeks. You may experience cramping for up to 5 days following the abortion, and some patients experience no cramping at all.

Remember, Complications after an Abortion are Possible, not Probable.

A first trimester surgical abortion is more than 10 times safer than childbirth. Most women leave the clinic feeling fine, return to their normal, physical activities the next day, and have their first period in 4 to 6 weeks.

Midtrimester Abortion by Dilation and Evacuation

The decision when to perform the two day procedure will be determined by the physician based on several factors, previous pregnancies, and/or patient’s age, gestation ages ranging 17-21.6 weeks, and other factors will be taken in consideration in making the decision. The D & E procedure consists of two parts: Dilation and Evacuation. Dilation means to gradually dilate the cervix which is the opening of the uterus if the physician determines that a two day procedure is necessary. Laminaria will be inserted that will gradually swell. This process gently opens the cervix. The laminaria remains in the cervix overnight and will be removed by the physician prior to emptying the uterus. Evacuation is the removal of the contents of the uterus. The emptying of the uterus is performed using surgical instruments and suction aspiration.

After waiting the State 48 hour required time period you will return on day 2 for the insertion of the laminaria. It is important to know that once the laminaria is inserted the abortion procedure has begun.

After the laminaria is inserted, the patient and driver are required to spend the night at a nearby hotel. Patients receive information on overnight care instructions, the emergency number to the clinic, instructions for taking medications, and the time to return for the completion of the procedure for the next day. The D & E procedure are performed on two consecutive days. In some situations the physician may determine the procedure can be completed in one day.

Completion of the Procedure - Day 2

Upon arriving at the clinic and signing in, the patient is taken to the counseling room to sign additional consent forms. Patient will receive pain medication prior to going to exam room. The physician performing all abortions at West Alabama Women’s Center are qualified with years of experience in performing abortions.

Recovery Room

Following the completion of the procedure the patient is taken to the Recovery Room where vitals signs and bleeding will be carefully monitored for 30 minutes or until stable. The discharge staff will review your post-operative instructions, how to take your medications, and use of birth control pills if you have chosen this option. You will have an emergency number on post-op instructions where a physician is on call 24 hours a day. Follow up appointments are scheduled for three weeks unless specified by the physician.
To Book An Appointment or for additional information please feel free to Contact us at anytime at 1-800-616-2383 or 205-556-2026