Surgical abortions involve a surgical procedure to terminate a pregnancy. There are 2 types of surgical abortions- vacuum aspiration abortion and D&E abortion (dilation and evacuation).
Females up to 14 to 16 weeks pregnant can undergo an aspiration abortion, while D&E abortions are performed from 14 to 16 weeks of pregnancy or after.
A female should not have sex for at least 1 to 2 weeks after having a surgical abortion as sexual intercourse (mainly vaginal and oral ) can increase the risk of infections.
How to prepare for a surgical abortion
General instructions before undergoing a surgical abortion include the following. However, a female should speak to her about before for any special instructions in her case.
- Do not smoke, eat, or drink (not even water) for about 6 hours before the surgical abortion.
- Carry extra sanitary pads
- Arrange for someone to drive you back after the surgical abortion.
Surgical Abortion Procedures
Vacuum Aspiration Abortion
Vacuum aspiration is surgical abortion which involves the use of gentle suction (pull) to remove the pregnancy tissues from the uterus (womb).
Right before the vacuum aspiration, the female will be given anesthesia or medication to numb her cervix before performing the procedure. In rare cases, the female might be given general anesthesia for the procedure.
Vacuum aspiration procedure is not painful as the female would be given anesthesia or medicine so that she does not have pain or discomfort during the procedure. However, a female may experience a pulling or dragging sensation during the procedure.
Some females may experience mild cramping for 1 or 2 days after having a vacuum aspiration abortion. It is also common to have slight bleeding or spotting for up to 2 weeks afterward.
D&E Abortion (Dilation and Evacuation)
D&E or dilation and evacuation is a type of surgical abortion typically recommended by a gynecologist if the female is more than 13 weeks pregnant.
Dilation and evacuation abortion involves the use of a general anesthetic, which puts the female to sleep during the procedure. This means that the female will not be conscious during the procedure and will not feel any pain.
The gynecologist begins by using dilators (which are thin rods ), to open the female’s cervix. Then forceps and suction is used to remove the pregnancy tissues from the uterus (womb).
After having a dilation and evacuation abortion procedure, a female may experience mild to moderate cramping for 1 – 2 days and may also have spotting or bleeding for up to 2 weeks after the D&E abortion.
Also Read- Is Abortion painful?
Side effects of surgical abortions
Surgical abortions include vacuum aspiration abortion and dilation and evacuation abortion. The potential side effects of surgical abortion procedures can include:
- blood clots
Risks and complications of surgical abortions
Surgical abortions are typically safe and most females have no complications exept the common side effects after the abortion. However, the likelihood of complications slightly increases as the gestational period increases. Just like any surgical procedure, surgical abortions, in rare cases, can have side-effects. But an expert gynecologist is well aware of how to handle such complications and make things better for the female. This is why choosing an expert gynecologist is very important in case of medical termination of pregnancy.
Potential risks and complications of surgical abortions include-
- Infection- Due to lack of hygiene or any other factor, in rare cases, a female may have infection after a surgical abortion. Symptoms of infection after surgical abortion include fever, abdominal cramping or pain, and smelly vaginal discharge. The risk of infection increases if the female has an STI (sexually transmitted infection).
- Cervical tears or lacerations- In case of cervical tears or lacerations, the gynecologist would resolve the problem with dissolvable stitches after the procedure (if necessary). Else, if the tears or cuts are minor, the gynecologist may prescribe an ointment or medicines to heal up without the need of stitches.
- Uterine perforation: This can occur when an instrument punctures the uterine wall.
- Hemorrhaging– This can result in severe blood loss and heavy bleeding , following which the female may be hospitalized for recovery.
- Retained products of conception- If not performed properly, there might be remnants of the pregnancy left behind in the uterus. However, this complication only occurs in case of an unsafe abortion performed by a surgeon with insufficient experience.
- Allergic reaction to medications- In rare cases, the female may have an allergic reaction to anesthesia, antibiotics, pain medication, sedatives used during the procedure. This situation can be easily handled by the doctor and is not a major cause to worry about.
The female should take proper rest after going home from having a surgical abortion. Some females are comfortable returning to most normal activities (except heavy lifting) the next day after a surgical abortion. But, if you feel tired, take more rest until you feel okay. It is important to discuss any complications or side effects you are feeling after the procedure. Avoid sexual intercourse for 1-2 weeks after the surgical abortion to minimize the riks of infection.
It is very important that the abortion is carried out safely by an expert doctor. In case you have more doubts, queries or concerns, or are looking forward to having an abortion, consult our gynecologist online.