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Surgical abortion

An abortion procedure using a suction method

Surgical abortion is a safe and simple procedure used to end a pregnancy.

The pregnancy is removed vaginally by an experienced doctor using a suction method.

We offer surgical abortions up to 23 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy. The type of surgical abortion procedure we offer you will depend on how many weeks you have been pregnant and your medical history.

Ask your GP about surgical abortion.

Or call us any time to discuss your options with one of our nurses

0345 300 8090

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MSI UK nurse using a scan monitor

What is surgical abortion?

A surgical abortion involves the pregnancy being removed through the vagina using a suction method.

We offer surgical abortion as a day treatment in our clinics. The procedure for a surgical abortion can differ depending on your gestation (how many weeks pregnant you are), and so the amount of time you will spend in the clinic will be different too.

We can offer the procedure under conscious sedation or a light anaesthetic. We’ll discuss your choice with you at your consultation, and talk to you about pain relief we can give to make things more comfortable.

What to expect on the day

When you arrive at one of our clinics, you'll have a consultation (if you've not already had a phone consultation) and medical assessment with one of our specialist nurses.

Surgical abortion procedures differ at different gestations (how many weeks pregnant you are). They’ll talk you through the procedure and answer any questions you have.

Before 15 weeks of pregnancy

After 1-2h of cervix preparation, the pregnancy is removed from the womb by vacuum aspiration (this involves a suction method) through the cervix (neck of womb) and vagina. This is done under conscious sedation or a light anaesthetic. If you are under 14 weeks pregnant, it may be possible to have a local anaesthetic. Not all options are available in all locations, but during your appointment we can discuss what is possible.

This is a very quick and simple 5-10 minute procedure, but please plan on being with us for half a day.

Between 15 and 18 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy

After 2-4 hours of cervix preparation, slender specialised instruments are used to remove the pregnancy. This procedure is called dilatation and evacuation (D&E). This procedure is done under a light anaesthetic.

The procedure takes 10-15minutes, but please plan to be with us for half a day.

After 19 weeks

At this gestation range, the treatment is performed in two separate stages over 2 days. On day 1, your cervix will be prepared by inserting narrow expanders that gradually expand overnight. This is a simple and quick procedure that takes 5-10 minutes and you will be awake, but we can offer you some numbing cream and an inhaled sedative or pain killer. If you are over 22 weeks gestation, you may be offered an additional procedure called feticide. 

On day 2, you will return to the centre for the surgical procedure under a light anaesthetic. The pregnancy is removed through the cervix and vagina using slender specialised instruments and suction. This procedure is called dilatation and evacuation (D&E).

The procedure takes about 10-20 minutes, but please plan to be with us for half a day.

MSI UK nurse talking to a woman about abortion options

Surgical Abortion Recovery

After your treatment, you'll spend some time in our recovery lounge having some light refreshments until you’re ready to go home.

Most people will experience some bleeding and cramping afterwards. Bleeding can last for 1-2 weeks and will be similar to a heavy period. Cramping pains are also normal following the procedure, as the womb returns to its normal size. We will advise you about appropriate pain relief to take, and when to seek further advice if necessary.

Abortion aftercare

Looking for more information about surgical abortion?

You'll find answers to the questions people ask most about surgical abortion here. If you can't find out the information you need, please call us on 0345 300 8090.

Our surgical abortion aftercare booklet will give you all the aftercare information and advice you need after your abortion. You can download it here.

Surgical Abortion Aftercare Booklet

Speak to someone today to learn more about your options.

If you’re pregnant and want to discuss your options, get in touch with our friendly call centre staff for a confidential chat.