Abortions can be performed surgically by suction or medically with drugs.

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Abortions can be performed surgically by suction or medically with drugs.

What is medical abortion?

Medical abortion offers a new alternative to women in the U.S. seeking to terminate their pregnancies. Medical abortion uses drugs to stop the development of the embryo and to cause uterine cramping and bleeding that expels the pregnancy. Medical abortion is available early in pregnancy-before seven to nine weeks from a woman's last menstrual period, depending on the method used. More than 90% of women who use medical abortion successfully terminate their pregnancies. Otherwise, a suction abortion is done.

Side effects to the drugs used in a medical abortion are usually mild and may include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain/cramping, dizziness, vaginal bleeding, and headache.

Pregnancy termination may be completed within a few days after the administration of medications or it may take up to 1 month. The pregnancy may be passed at an unpredictable or inconvenient time. The woman may see the pregnancy tissue. She will want to consider these factors in her decision making process.

What is suction abortion?

Suction abortion is a technique that has been used since 1967. It is a relatively simple and safe procedure.

  • The physician first does a bimanual exam (using one hand on the abdomen and two fingers in the vagina) to determine how many weeks pregnant you are.
  • A sterile cloth is then put over your legs and abdomen and a sterile speculum is inserted into the vagina to view your cervix.
  • Next, your cervix is numbed by several small injections of local anesthetic in and around it. (Let your practitioner know if you are allergic to any medications.) The injections may cause a stinging or burning sensation.
  • A clamp called a tenaculum is then used to hold the cervix steady for the duration of the procedure. The size of the uterus may be measured internally by inserting a thin probe. This may result in some cramping. The opening in the cervix is dilated which may again result in some cramping.
  • A small, flexible plastic tube (about the size of a pencil) is inserted into the uterus. The contents of the uterus are gently removed by manual vacuum aspiration or by a suction machine. The suction lasts 3-5 minutes and can produce a pulling sensation and/or some cramping. The cramping is a sign that the uterus is being emptied and is returning to its normal size.
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How long does suction abortion take?

The actual procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Before you come, check with your doctor about instructions for preparing for your appointment. If you have a blood donor card or other verification of your blood type, please bring this with you to your appointment. You should plan to spend about two hours in the doctor's office for preparation, procedure, and recovery. You may bring a supportive friend to be with you during the procedure, and you are advised to have someone with you who can drive you home.

Where can suction abortion be ...

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