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Surgical Abortion: Before Your Procedure

What is a surgical abortion?

A surgical abortion is a minor medical procedure to end a pregnancy. The most common type is vacuum aspiration. The doctor gently widens the opening of your cervix and puts a tube in your uterus. The tube uses gentle suction to empty the uterus. This procedure takes just a few minutes. But you may be in the clinic for a few hours.

Before the procedure, you may get medicine to reduce pain and help you relax. After, you may have cramps and light bleeding. But they usually don't last more than a few days. Most people can go back to their normal activities in 1 to 2 days.

You can get pregnant in the weeks after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about birth control options.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow any instructions you were given to prepare for the procedure. You may be able to eat and drink as normal. If you are told to limit food and drink, follow the instructions exactly.
  • You may want to wear comfortable clothes that are easy to remove.

At the clinic or doctor's office

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You may be given medicine for pain and anxiety.
  • You may be given an Rh immune globulin shot if you have Rh-negative blood.
  • The procedure will only take a few minutes. But you may be in the office or clinic for a few hours.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

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