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Abortion Procedure: Surgical vs Medical Abortion

Abortion Procedure: Surgical vs Medical Abortion

Posted by FPAMedical

At Family Planning Associates Medical Group in Phoenix, Arizona, we provide two different abortion procedures: medical abortions (abortion Pill) and surgical abortions for pregnancies up to 24 weeks.

Medical Abortion Procedure:

Medical abortion in Arizona at FPA Medical Group is a combination of two drugs called Mifiprex and misoprostol, more commonly known as the “abortion pill,” are used to induce medical abortion for women. This abortion method may be chosen for pregnancies up to 11 weeks. Mifiprex is provided on the first day of your visit and works by counteracting progesterone, the hormone that sustains pregnancies. Misoprostol will be taken 48 hours after the Mifiprex, and this drug stimulates the contractions required to expel the uterine contents. Medical abortion has a success rate of 95 percent. However, should the process fail to terminate the pregnancy, a surgical abortion will be needed to complete the abortion. This will be performed at no cost to you in these cases.

Surgical Abortion Procedure:

Surgical abortion may be performed as early as five weeks and as late as 24 weeks into pregnancy. For pregnancies of 14 weeks or earlier, the entire process is typically performed in the same day. In order to minimize your risk of infection, we will give you an antibiotic to take 30 minutes before beginning the abortion process. While you’re in the procedure room, you will be given an IV to ensure proper hydration and as a way to administer medications. During this time, the doctor will examine you, address any questions or concerns you may have and give you sedatives.

To begin the procedure, the doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina and injects a local anesthetic into the cervix. Next, special tools called dilators are used to gently stretch the cervix open, and a sterile suction instrument is inserted to extract the pregnancy. All of the doctor’s actions are guided by an ultrasound machine to ensure the safety of our patients. In most cases, abortions that are performed within 12 weeks of pregnancy take approximately five minutes to complete. Once the abortion procedure is finished, patients are taken to our recovery room outfitted with comfortable chairs. Here, patients are monitored for around 30 minutes before being discharged.

A somewhat different abortion procedure is required for pregnancies that are later than 12 weeks. While many pregnancies between 12 and 16 weeks can still be performed the same day, in these cases, patients will be given misoprostol. This medication will make the cervix softer and helps it dilate more easily. Within one and a half to three hours following administration of the misoprostol, the doctor will perform the normal abortion procedure.

For pregnancies between 16 and 24 weeks, the cervix will take longer to prepare. Under these circumstances, the doctor will insert laminaria, special sticks that are designed to dilate the cervix, on the first day. The laminaria gradually absorbs moisture and expand, which causes them to stretch the cervix opening slowly and therefore reduce the risk of cervical injury. The next day, the laminaria are taken out, and an abortion is performed with a combination of forceps and suction. With pregnancies of 19 weeks or later, the cervix must sometimes undergo two days of preparation, and in these cases, the surgical abortion procedure will be performed on the third day.

We typically give our patients a type of sedation known as “twilight sleep” prior to performing surgical abortions. With this form of sedation, patients normally feel sleepy and calm, but they do not lose consciousness or fall asleep. Cramping and sensations of pressure are normally felt during the abortion procedure. In many cases, our patients have little or no recollection of the abortion procedure under this type of sedation.

No matter which abortion procedure you choose, a follow-up appointment is needed to ensure you are healing properly.
As with any surgery, if you experience fever, heavy bleeding, extreme discomfort or if you simply have questions, contact us immediately.