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Are Surgical Abortions Complicated?

The idea of having surgery can be worrying, but surgical abortion is actually a very simple procedure. It’s very easy to understand what will happen during your surgical termination.

Your Reproductive System

In order to understand what happens during a surgical abortion, it helps to have a basic understanding of your reproductive system. Being familiar with the following terms will be useful:

  • Uterus or womb: the organ that holds the pregnancy. It has a special lining that grows thicker every month in preparation for pregnancy and then is shed as a period if you don’t conceive. The embryo implants in this lining.
  • Ovaries: two organs that produce eggs. One or two mature eggs should be released every month when you ovulate.
  • Fallopian tubes: two tubes that connect the ovaries with the uterus. Fertilisation happens here, and the fertilised egg must then move down into the womb. If the embryo implants in the fallopian tube or somewhere else, it is known as an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Cervix: a narrow passage that is the opening at the bottom of the womb. It is sealed with a mucus plug when you are pregnant and must dilate (open up) when you give birth.
  • Vagina: the muscular passage that connects the cervix to the outside world. The visible portion of your genitals that surround the vagina opening are called the vulva.

What Happens During a Surgical Abortion?

Now that you know what we are talking about, explaining the surgical abortion procedure is very simple. There are three basic steps that need to happen:

  1. The cervix is opened up. We can usually do this with medication. You will either be given a tablet to place in your vagina or a pill that you should dissolve under your tongue. You will need to take this at least a few hours before the procedure so that there is time for the medication to work. Other techniques are sometimes used, such as small rods that can be placed in the cervix and allowed to expand for up to 24 hours.
  2. Pain relief. A local anaesthetic will be injected into your cervix to numb it. You may also be given an oral painkiller, a sedative to help you to relax, or a general anaesthetic so that you will sleep through the procedure.
  3. The contents of the womb are removed through the cervix and vagina. Special instruments are inserted through the cervix to clear out the tissue from the womb. The procedure will only take about 10 minutes, but you’ll need to rest for a few hours at the hospital before you go home. The remaining womb lining will be shed over the next few days, like when you have a period.

The basic procedure for a surgical abortion is very easy to understand. There are a couple of different types of surgical abortion that can be performed using different instruments for the third step. Manual vacuum aspiration uses suction to remove the womb contents while a Dilation and Evacuation procedure uses surgical instruments such as forceps instead. Both procedures are very safe and straightforward, with no incisions or stitches.

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