Abortion Procedures: Meaning, Types, Procedures, Dilation and Evacuation

What Are the Types of Abortion Procedures?

Various methods are employed in clinics or hospitals to induce abortion. One such method is a medical abortion, utilizing a prescription pill known as mifepristone (RU-486), which can be taken at home during the early stages of pregnancy. The specific procedure you undergo typically hinges on the stage of your pregnancy.

During the first trimester, a vacuum aspiration procedure is common, while in the second trimester (after 13 weeks since your last menstrual period), a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure is typically recommended. For later stages of pregnancy, a dilation and extraction (D&X) procedure may be performed.

The majority of abortion procedures are outpatient, meaning you won’t need to stay overnight in the medical facility.

Before the procedure, your healthcare provider will provide instructions, possibly over the phone, as in-clinic abortions are considered surgical procedures. You may be required to fast starting from midnight the night before. Upon arrival at the clinic, you’ll complete paperwork and undergo a pre-abortion workup, including a physical examination, pregnancy test, blood test, screening for sexually transmitted infections, and potentially additional tests as deemed necessary. An ultrasound may also be conducted to determine the stage of pregnancy and identify any abnormalities.

Based on this information, your doctor will counsel you and determine the most appropriate procedure.

Pain management options will also be discussed with you. Local anesthesia is commonly administered for in-clinic abortions, numbing the cervix while keeping you awake. Additionally, ibuprofen is often provided for pain relief, and your doctor may offer oral medication for relaxation or mild sedation. If preferred, heavier sedation can be administered through an intravenous (IV) line, keeping you lightly asleep during the procedure.

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