Get answers to your Urinary Incontinence / Urogynecology questions.
Suction curettage; Surgical abortion; Elective abortion - surgical; Therapeutic abortion - surgical
A surgical abortion is a procedure that ends a pregnancy by removing the fetus and placenta from the mother's womb (uterus).
There are different types of surgical abortion.
Sometimes the woman needs the procedure for a health reason. This is called a therapeutic abortion.
Other times, she chooses (elects) to end the pregnancy. This is called an elective abortion.
See also: Miscarriage
A surgical abortion uses a vacuum to remove the fetus and related material from a woman's uterus (womb). The procedure is usually done 6 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period
You may receive medicine (sedative) to help you relax and feel sleepy. The doctor may numb the cervix so you feel little pain during the procedure.
If the surgical abortion is done after 12 weeks of pregnancy, the doctor must first open (dilate) the cervical canal. Small sticks called laminaria are placed into the cervix to help it open. Sometimes, this is done a day or two before the actual abortion procedure. Next, the doctor inserts a hollow tube into the womb before using the vacuum to remove the pregnancy-related tissues from the womb.
Medicines may be given to help the uterine muscles contract. This reduces bleeding.
There are several reasons a surgical abortion might be considered:
The decision to end a pregnancy is very personal. Most health care providers recommend careful counseling before making such a decision.
Abortion is a controversial issue. A woman who chooses to end a pregnancy may feel she cannot share her decision with others. Therefore, it is important for her to identify those who may help her through what may be a difficult time.
Women who are trying to make this difficult decision should find a safe place in which they can obtain counseling regarding all options for pregnancy resolution.
If a woman chooses to have an abortion, she should find a safe place to have the procedure performed and obtain the proper support and follow-up care afterwards.
Mischell DR. Family planning: contraception, sterilization, and pregnancy termination. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 14.
Simpson JL, Jauniaux ERM. Pregnancy loss. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2007:chap 24.
Annas GJ, Elias S. Legal and ethical issues in obstetric practice. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2007:chap 51.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885