Abortion Procedure – Aspiration

How is aspiration performed?

Aspiration is a surgical abortion procedure performed during the first 6 to 16 weeks gestation. It is also referred to as suction aspiration, suction curettage, or vacuum aspiration. Your abortion provider will give you medication for pain and possibly sedation. You will lie on your back with your feet in stirrups, and a speculum is inserted to open the vagina.

A local anesthetic is administered to your cervix to numb it. Then a tenaculum (surgical instrument with long handles and a clamp at the end) is used to hold the cervix in place for the cervix to be dilated by absorbent rods that vary in size.

The rods may also be put in a few days prior to the procedure. When the cervix is wide enough, a cannula, which is a long plastic tube connected to a suction device, is inserted into the uterus to suction out the fetus and placenta.

The procedure usually lasts 10-15 minutes, but recovery can require staying at the clinic for a few hours. Your doctor will also give you antibiotics to help prevent infection.

What are the side effects and risks of suction aspiration?

Common side effects of the procedure include:

  • cramping
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • feeling faint
  • heavy or prolong bleeding
  • blood clots
  • damage to the cervix and perforation of the uterus

Infection due to remaining tissue or infection caused by an STD or bacteria being introduced to the uterus can cause:

  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Scar tissue

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if your side effects persist or worsen.

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