The procedure is called a vacuum
aspiration, or suction curettage. A speculum (a narrow
metal or plastic instrument, shaped like a duck's bill)
is inserted into the vagina to hold it open. The cervix
(opening to the uterus) is then slowly widened using and
instrument called a dilator, which is long, thin and
about the size of a pen. It has a number of small arms at
the end, that gently open the cervix. A small hollow tube
is inserted into the uterus. The tube is attached to a
pump and suction is appkied. After the uterus is emptied,
a small spoon-like instrument (curette) is inserted into
the uterus. The curette is scraped gently around the
walls of the uterus to dislodge any remaining tissue. The
hollow tube is then reinserted and suction is applied
again. The whole procedure takes about ten minutes.
Early abortions are eleven times safer than giving
birth. However, as with all surgical procedures
complications occasionally arise.
- Allergic Reactions to specific
anesthetics or other medication.
Women taking medication or drugs, including
recreational drugs, may experience serious
reactions to anesthetics.
- Incomplete Abortions. This
occurs in fewer than one in 100 abortions. It may
be necessary to repeat the procedure and remove
additional tissue. Incomplete abortion can lead
to infection, heavy bleeding, or both. In rare
cases, surgery is required.
- Blood clots in uterus. Clots
that may cause severe cramping occur in about one
in 100 abortions. The clots are usually remved by
a repeated suction curettage.
- Infection by germs from the vagina or
cervix that get into the uterus. In
many cases, the infection is a flareup of a
preexisting sexually transmitted infection. Fewer
than one in 100 women who have an abortion become
infected. Usually antibiotics are used to clear
up the infection. In rare cases, a repeated
suction, hospitalization or suregery is required.
- Heavy bleeding that requires medical
treatment. This is rare. Such
bleeding may require medication, a repeat suction
or dilation and curettage, or, rarely, surgery.
Fewer than one in 1000 cases require blood
- A cut or torn cervix. This
occurs in fewer than one in 100 early abortions.
Stitches are rarely needed to repair the injury.
- Perforation of the wall of the
uterus. In about one in 1000 early
abotions, an instrument goes through the wall of
the uterus. In even fewer cases, perforation
leads to infection, heavy vaginal or abdominal
bleeding, or both. Surgery may be necessary to
repair the uterine tissue. Very rarely
hysterectomy is required.
- Very rarely, in about six in one
million cases, a woman dies from complications
arising from legal abortion.
About 2 in 1000 abortions are not successful. This
usually occurs when there is more than one fetus or when
the pregnancy is ectopic.