Types of Abortion Methods: Medical and Surgical Abortions

Family Planning Associates Medical Group of Phoenix, Arizona provides medication and surgical abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Medication abortions with Mifeprex and misoprostol may be performed up to 9 weeks of pregnancy. The Mifeprex is given on the first day. Mifeprex blocks the effects of progesterone, a hormone necessary for maintaining a pregnancy. The misoprostol is taken 48 hours later to cause the uterus to expel the pregnancy. The medication abortion is effective in 95% of cases. If the process is not successful it will be completed by performing a surgical abortion. In the event of a failure of the medication abortion, the surgical abortion will be done at no charge.

Medical and Surgical Abortions

Surgical abortions can be done from about 5 weeks of pregnancy up to just under 24 weeks. In most cases up to 14 weeks the procedure is done in a single day. An antibiotic will be given about 30 minutes prior to starting the procedure. In the procedure room, an IV will be started. The physician will answer any questions you might have, perform a physical exam and administer sedatives. A speculum will be placed in the vagina and a local anesthetic will be given. The doctor will then use instruments called dilators to slightly stretch the opening of the cervix. A sterile suction device is then used to remove the pregnancy from the uterus. The procedure is done under ultrasound guidance to ensure safety. All in all a typical surgical abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy take about 5 minutes from start to finish. After the procedure patients are watched in the recovery room for about half an hour and may then go home.

Surgical abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy require a slightly different approach. In many cases from 12 to 16 weeks of pregnancy, the procedure will be done in a single day. A medication called misoprostol will be given. This medicine helps to soften the cervix making it easier to dilate. One and a half to three hours after the misoprostol is given the abortion procedure will be done as described above.

In cases from 16 to 24 weeks, more time is necessary to prepare the cervix for the procedure. In these cases dilators called luminaria are placed in the cervix on the first day. These dilators stretch the opening of the cervix slowly and gradually, preventing injury to the cervix. On the second day, the dilators will be removed and the pregnancy will be removed from the uterus using a combination of suction and forceps. In some cases after 19 weeks of pregnancy, 2 days of cervical preparation will be necessary and the procedure will be completed on the third day.

Surgical abortions are usually done under conscious sedation which is often referred to as “twilight sleep”. Under conscious sedation, people are usually very relaxed and drowsy, but not completely asleep or unconscious. It is normal to feel pressure and cramping during a surgical abortion. Often, due to the sedation, women have no memory of the procedure when it is done.

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