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Abortion - surgical

Suction curettage; Surgical abortion; Elective abortion - surgical; Therapeutic abortion - surgical

Surgical abortion is a procedure that ends an undesired pregnancy by removing the fetus and placenta from the mother's womb (uterus).

Surgical abortion is not the same as miscarriage. Miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends on its own before the 20th week of pregnancy.

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Abortion procedure

Description

Surgical abortion involves dilating the opening to the uterus (cervix) and placing a small suction tube into the uterus. Suction is used to remove the fetus and related pregnancy material from the uterus.

Before the procedure, you may have the following tests:

During the procedure:

After the procedure, you may be given medicine to help your uterus contract. This reduces bleeding.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Reasons a surgical abortion might be considered include:

The decision to end a pregnancy is very personal. To help you weigh your choices, discuss your feelings with a counselor or your provider. A family member or friend can also be of help.

Risks

Surgical abortion is very safe. It is very rare to have any complications.

Risks of surgical abortion include:

After the Procedure

You will stay in a recovery area for a few hours. Your providers will tell you when you can go home. Because you may still be drowsy from the medicines, arrange ahead of time to have someone pick you up.

Follow instructions for how to care for yourself at home. Make any follow-up appointments.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Problems rarely occur after this procedure.

Physical recovery usually occurs within a few days, depending on the stage of the pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding can last for a week to 10 days. Cramping most often lasts for a day or two.

You can get pregnant before your next period, which will occur 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure. Be sure to make arrangements to prevent pregnancy, especially during the first month after the procedure. You may want to talk with your provider about emergency contraception.

Related Information

Cervix

References

Katzir L. Induced abortion. In: Mularz A, Dalati S, Pedigo R, eds. Ob/Gyn Secrets. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 13.

Leeman L, Godfrey E. Pregnancy termination: first-trimester suction aspiration. In: Fowler GC, ed. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 113.

Magowan BA, Owen P, Thomson A. Abortion. In: Magowan BA, Owen P, Thomson A, eds. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2019:chap 20.

Rivlin K, Westhoff C. Family planning. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 13.

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Review Date: 12/2/2020  

Reviewed By: LaQuita Martinez, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Alpharetta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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