How Long Does a Surgical Abortion Last?

Do you think you may be pregnant? Are you considering an abortion? Get the information you need while figuring out your next steps. 

What Is a Surgical Abortion?

There are several methods of abortion, and which method of abortion is provided depends mainly on how far along the patient is. Surgical abortion is an in-clinic procedure typically used to terminate pregnancies after 10 weeks. 

Because surgical abortion is a serious medical procedure, it is usually performed by a licensed physician in a clinic or hospital and sometimes involves some form of sedation. It is also fairly common for the costs and risks associated with this type of abortion to be higher than other methods. 

Vacuum aspiration is often used to terminate pregnancies between 6 and 12 weeks. In this surgical abortion, the pregnancy is removed from the woman’s uterus using a light suction. 

Past the 12-week mark, surgical abortion procedures become more involved, with a procedure like dilation & evacuation (D&E). In this procedure, a doctor or provider dilates (or opens) the cervix with medication or rods. Then, once the cervix has widened, the doctor removes the pregnancy from the uterus using a combination of suction and medical instruments. Dilation & curettage (D&C) is another method similar to this procedure that involves the provider lightly scraping the tissue from the uterus using a tool known as a curette. 

Induction-evacuation surgical abortions are used to terminate a pregnancy past 26 weeks. This process takes longer than other surgical abortion procedures, involving softening the cervix with medication, terminating the pregnancy through an injection into the uterus, and beginning labor so the woman can pass the pregnancy and placenta. 

How Long Does a Surgical Abortion Take?

The length of the surgical abortion process depends on how far along you are in pregnancy, and if any complications arise. For the termination of early pregnancies, a surgical abortion can be completed in under an hour. However, for later pregnancies that require a more involved process, a surgical abortion could take several visits. . 

To fully know what to expect if you choose to pursue a surgical abortion, learn the facts about your unique pregnancy situation first. Find out:

  • How far along are you? 
  • Do you have any potential medical complications, such as ectopic pregnancy? 
  • Do you know what method you would need to pursue? 
  • What are the risks associated with that method? 

Each type of surgical abortion comes with associated risks. According to the Mayo Clinic, Common side effects of surgical abortions include:

  • Light bleeding 
  • Cramping 

More serious risks to watch out for may also include:

  • Infection
  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Damage to the cervix
  • Scar tissue on the uterine wall

Please seek emergency care immediately if you experience any of these symptoms following a surgical abortion:

  • Bleeding that’s heavy enough that you need to change pads every hour
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness that lasts
  • Fever
  • Pain that gets worse instead of better
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina
  • Cramps lasting more than 48 hours

What Do I Need to Know Before a Surgical Abortion? 

One of the best ways to put your health and safety first is to gather all the information you can about your unique pregnancy concerns beforehand. You can get these questions answered through an ultrasound exam with a medical professional. This exam can answer several questions, including: 

  • How far along you are (and what pregnancy options are available) 
  • If the pregnancy is viable (or if you’re having a miscarriage) 
  • If the pregnancy is located in the uterus (or if you have an ectopic pregnancy)

Meeting with a medical professional in person before planning your next steps can also give you a chance to ask questions and find out all there is to know about your options

At First Care Clinic, our professional medical team is happy to help you navigate your pregnancy decision with compassionate, confidential care. Schedule your free appointment today to get your questions answered. 

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