Surgical Abortion: Everything You Need to Know

surgical abortion

According to the World Health Organization, 45% of all abortions are unsafe, most of them occurring in developing countries.

An abortion is deemed unsafe when it is carried out by a person lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that doesn’t meet the basic medical standards, or both, which can not only lead to immediate health risks, including death, as well as long term complications but also affecting women’s physical & mental well being, along with financial implications for them & communities. 

Watch out as unsafe abortion may involve 

  • the insertion of an object or substance ( root, twig, catheter or traditional concoction) into the uterus; 
  • Dilatation & curettage performed incorrectly by an unskilled provider
  • Ingestion of harmful substances
  • Application of external force 

[Do not have unsafe abortion. Do not go to quacks to get an abortion. There is nothing to be ashamed of having an unplanned pregnancy and wanting an abortion. You can get safe and legal abortion in India. Talk to us now by clicking on the Whatsapp chat button: header wp icon ]

Abortions are safe when they’re carried out using methods recommended by WHO, that’s appropriate to the pregnancy duration & the person carrying out the abortion has the mandatory skills. 

Before abortion

Prior to an abortion, 

  • Your medical history will be taken & you will be examined; urine & blood tests may be taken as well 
  • There should be pre-procedure counselling, where, keeping in mind your privacy & confidentiality, various options will be presented to you, in order to help you decide the method of abortion & to help you choose a safe & appropriate contraceptive method after the abortion, accordingly 
  • Taking your consent for the procedure after being explained about it & its implications properly 

Note that according to the MTP Act details,  only the consent of the woman is required to terminate the pregnancy except in case of a minor or a mentally ill woman, where consent of the guardian is required. 

[Were you aware that abortion is legal in India under many circumstances? There is no definitive rule that an unmarried woman should not be given an abortion. You can chat with us and know more. Click on this Whatsapp chat button now: header wp icon ]

During the abortion

The appropriate methods of abortion depend most importantly on the duration of pregnancy. These methods can either be medical or surgical.

Read also: Medical Abortion: Everything You Need to Know

Surgical Abortion is a procedure done where the pregnancy is undesirable; by removing the fetus & the placenta from the mother’s womb. 

Preparing for the surgical procedure: 

  • Since its a surgical procedure, one needs to come without having any water or drink, for at least 3-6 hours, accordingly, before the surgery, on the day of the appointment, with their ID card & medical reports
  • Ensure to carry clean fresh underwear & sanitary pads
  • Preferably bring along someone (trusted person) to help you get back home after the procedure 
  • Depending on how far along you are, you may also be prescribed medications like Misoprostol too. 
  • After you’ve changed into a hospital gown, there are various anaesthetic choices you may avail to, such as general anaesthesia, local anaesthesia ( pain numbing medication is injected into the spine or cervix), mild anaesthetic gas etc. These will help in managing the pain & help you relax during the procedure, for which, even oral medications may be given. 
  • You’ll be told to lie down in a lithotomy position that’s very commonly taken during the pelvic exam

The surgical methods comprise of the following: 

  1. Vacuum Aspiration 
  •  It’s a more preferred surgical procedure done during 6-12 weeks of pregnancy usually, where a tube (can be manual or electrical) is gently inserted into the womb through the cervix & the contents of the tube are sucked out through the cervix. Takes about 10-15 minutes. 
  1. Dilatation & Evacuation (D&E), Dilatation & Curettage (D&C) 
  • Here, the woman’s cervical canal is relaxed & slowly enlarged with pen sized blunt metallic instruments called dilators. When the cervical canal is sufficiently enlarged, the womb/uterus is emptied by suction, or by having its contents gently scraped out with an instrument called curette. 
  • The only way D&E is different from vacuum aspiration is the usage of instruments like forceps & curette in the former, to gently scrape out the contents (remaining in case)  inside the uterus. 
  1. Hysterotomy 
  • Used very rarely, only in cases where other invasive procedures have failed, hysterotomy is a surgical procedure where the contents of the womb are extracted by giving a small incision on the abdomen. Performed between 16-24 weeks of pregnancy, in rare cases. 

[Abortions always bring fear in many. However, when under the care and support of the right medical team, you have no reason to get scared or worried. We know doctors who will help you. They are nonjudgmental and will respect your privacy. Talk to us so that we can help you get a safe and legal abortion. Click on this Whatsapp chat button now: header wp icon ]

Post-abortion care

  • After the procedure, it is normal for one to experience abdominal cramping or spotting/slight bleeding (where the sanitary napkins you brought will prove to be helpful)
  • Antibiotics may be given to prevent a genital infection
  • Advised to avoid sexual intercourse till bleeding, cramping stops
  • Post-abortion counselling should be done where one’s doubts will be cleared, help given to decide the appropriate contraceptive method post-abortion, precautions & care needed to be taken in the post-abortion period, actions to be taken in case of complications etc
  • Will be advised to follow up in a week, usually 

Read more here: What is Post Abortion Care in India?

Every woman has the recognized human right to decide freely and responsibly without coercion and violence the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. Access to legal, safe and comprehensive abortion care, including post-abortion care, is essential for the realization of these rights.- WHO

[If you have any other questions or doubts about periods, pregnancy, abortion, or your sexuality, please talk to us. We will immediately help you. Talk to us by clicking on this Whatsapp chat button: header wp icon ]

About the Author:

Teertha Barnwal, a doctor, a medical intern at MGM Medical College, Navi Mumbai. Enjoys writing, singing & adventuring. Meditates & believes that life is the biggest adventure.

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