Victoria, BC

Tillicum Medical Clinic

Abortion - Surgical First Trimester

This is categorized under:

Surgical abortion can be performed in a one-day procedure if less than 14 weeks have passed since the first day of your last menstrual period. Either an electric or manual vacuum aspiration may be performed, based upon provider preference.

Complications of first trimester surgical abortion occur in only 0.5% of all cases and include:

  • Failed abortion
  • Incomplete abortion
  • Infection
  • Hematometria
  • Hemorrhage
  • Uterine perforation

The procedure is done in the doctor's office with local anesthesia and oral pain-relieving medications. The entire visit will take around three hours if you are less than 12 weeks pregnant. If you are 12 to 14 weeks pregnant, your visit will last five to six hours. In either case, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.

The doctor will review your medical history, perform an ultrasound exam to determine your pregnancy's gestation, and give you medications. If you are less than 12 weeks pregnant, you will receive oral pain medications, including Vicodin, valium and ibuprofen, at this time. If you are 12 to 14 weeks pregnant, you also will receive a medication called misoprostol, which softens your cervix to make dilation easier.

During the procedure, the doctor will:

  1. Use a speculum to view inside your vagina
  2. Clean your vagina and cervix with gauze soaked in soap
  3. Apply numbing medication to your cervix
  4. Dilate your cervix, the tight opening to your uterus, with thin metal rods
  5. Insert a narrow flexible tube into your uterus
  6. Apply gentle suction to the other end of the tube to remove all of the pregnancy tissue

Toward the end of the procedure, you may feel a cramp that feels similar to a menstrual cramp in your uterus, as it is shrinking down to its usual size.

Most of the procedure time is spent preparing your body for the procedure. The suction portion only takes about a minute and the entire procedure takes around 15 to 20 minutes. Your support person can be right next to you for the whole procedure.

After the procedure, you should remain resting for a few minutes. You will probably have some cramping and spotting. A heat pack and a menstrual pad as well as juice and crackers may be provided.

Your health educator will then give you instructions on how to take care of your body. The doctor will give you antibiotics and a prescription for birth control if you desire it. You should go immediately home to rest and let the medications wear off. You should be able to return to normal activities, such as work and school, the next day.