Surgical Abortion - Safe Abortion Procedure
A surgical abortion involves the removal of the pregnancy (‘contents of the uterus') via the vagina by surgical means.
To have a surgical abortion, the cervix must be opened wide enough to allow the surgical instruments into the uterus.
For more information about the surgical abortion procedure please visit the following links.
AFTER SURGICAL ABORTION CARE
Keep guided by our guidelines as to how to care for yourself and reduce the risk of infection after a surgical abortion.
In general, the following suggestions may apply (to two weeks after the procedure, or just a few days after bleeding has stopped):
- Shower instead of taking a bath.
- Avoid sexual intercourse.
- Use sanitary pads instead of tampons.
- Avoid going swimming
ANAESTHETIC FOR A SURGICAL ABORTION
Anaesthetic choices may include:
1. general anaesthetic – this makes you completely unconscious. Any operation involving a general anaesthetic carries risk.
There is a danger of choking if fasting isn’t properly undertaken beforehand
2. nitrous oxide gas – or a similar gas.
This puts you in a state of ‘twilight sleep’. You are awake, but sedated and calm
3. local anaesthetic – anaesthetic is injected into your cervix to make the area numb, so that you don’t feel anything during the operation (this is known as a paracervical block)
4. local anaesthetic with intravenous sedation – a combination of intravenous sedation (sedative medication is put into your vein using an intravenous line) and local anaesthetic injected directly into your cervix.
METHOD OF SURGICAL ABORTION
Most abortions are performed using ‘suction (vacuum) aspiration’. To have this procedure you need to be in your first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy. (This means you are 12 weeks pregnant or less.)
Your cervix opening is gradually widened with rods of increasing size and a slim tube is then inserted into your uterus. The pregnancy (the fetus and the placenta) is withdrawn with gentle suction. Another instrument called a curette is used to check the uterus is empty.
This operation takes less than 15 minutes.
SURGICAL ABORTION AFTER 12 WEEKS GESTATION
For a termination of a pregnancy over 12 weeks gestation, for an example, in the second trimester, the procedure is similar to that of a first-trimester abortion, but your cervix is prepared differently.
It may involve:
- Hormone-blocking tablets may be used to help soften your cervix. These tablets may be taken by mouth or inserted into your vagina. They take about two hours to take effect. The abortion is then performed using suction and instruments to remove the pregnancy.
- Your cervix opening may be widened a little, and then have a special device inserted. This device swells over several hours until the cervix is opened wide enough to allow the abortion to occur. Medications may also be used. The abortion is usually performed one or two days later.
COMPLICATIONS & SIDE EFFECTS - SURGICAL ABORTION
Complications occur in around three per cent of surgical abortion cases. The risk of complications depends on how many weeks pregnant you are. Abortions performed in the first trimester are the safest. Most surgical abortions are performed in the first trimester.
Complications of surgical abortion can include:
haemorrhage – bleeding after an abortion should be similar to a menstrual period. If heavy bleeding occurs the abortion may not be complete. Sometimes, treatment for this is to do a suction curettage of the uterus. Blood transfusion is rarely required
infection – a fever (high temperature) may indicate that you have an infection. This can be caused by an incomplete abortion or a sexually transmitted infection. Sometimes, women can develop a chronic infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Treatment for infection is with antibiotics
injury to the uterus – the walls of your uterus are muscular but soft. Sometimes the surgical instruments used for an abortion can injure (or ‘perforate’) the uterus. In rare instances, this can cause an abdominal infection (peritonitis) and severe blood loss. This complication is very rare and, if it occurs, will usually be recognised and treated straight away
injury to the cervix – the cervix is stretched during an abortion. If you have multiple procedures the cervix can weaken – this is sometimes called an 'incompetent' cervix.
An incompetent cervix can cause problems in later pregnancies, because it is too weak to remain fully closed under the weight of a growing pregnancy.
These last two complications are rare, because surgical abortions are undertaken by experienced surgeons.
WHERE TO GET HELP
- Call: Ladies Choices Clinic On 0630248110
- Your GP
- In an emergency call 1011 for an ambulance
- Hospital emergency department