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Surgical Abortion: Before Your Procedure

What is a surgical abortion?

A surgical abortion ends a pregnancy. The kind of procedure you have may depend on how long you have been pregnant. Your doctor will talk with you about which options are best for you.

The doctor will place a tube in your uterus. The tube uses suction to empty the uterus. Your doctor may also use a syringe, forceps, or other tools to fully clear the uterus. You may be awake during the procedure. Your doctor may give you medicine to help you relax.

Afterward, you may have cramps and light bleeding for up to 2 weeks. Most women can go back to their normal activities in 1 to 2 days.

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

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

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 aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • 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.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the clinic or doctor's office

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You may be given medicine for pain.
  • You may be given an Rh immune globulin shot if you have Rh-negative blood.
  • The procedure will take about 1 hour.

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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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.