Surgical abortion is one of the most commonly performed and safest surgical procedures in Australia, with up to 80,000 women undergoing the procedure every year. Most commonly performed in the first trimester, up to 12 weeks’ gestation, surgical abortion has a low complication rate when carried out during this time. While surgical abortion can be performed in the second trimester (up to 20 weeks) this does involve a more complex surgical procedure.
Surgical abortion in the first trimester is most often carried out under ‘General Anaesthesia’, although the option of a local anesthetic is available. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, the doctor inserts a small tube into the uterus and, applying gentle suction, removes the contents and lining of the uterus. This is why a surgical abortion is often called a ‘suction curette or vacuum curettage or suction vacuum'.
The procedure itself takes around 10 minutes; however, from the point of arrival at the clinic to prepare for the surgery and recovery from the anesthetic, having a surgical abortion can take 4 – 5 hours. After the anesthetic has worn off and you have received your aftercare advice, you will need to be driven to your home or hotel.
Surgical abortion is one of the safest operations carried out in Australia; however, all surgery carries some risks. Although complications can occur in an estimated 3% of cases, major complications are rare. Below is a list of the risks associated with surgical abortion:
Women who experience heavy bleeding, fever or severe pain or discomfort following a surgical abortion must consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Overall, surgical abortion is a very safe and highly successful option for termination of pregnancy in the first trimester. The advantages of choosing a surgical abortion are: