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What Are the Types of Abortion Procedures?

There are a few types of pregnancy termination options that are done in clinics or hospitals. The pregnancy termination options you get will probably depend almost entirely on how far you are along in your pregnancy.

If you’re in your first trimester, you’ll likely have a vacuum aspiration pregnancy termination option. If you’re in your second trimester (meaning that it’s been more than 13 weeks since your last menstrual period), you’ll likely have a dilation and evacuation, or D&E pregnancy termination option. If you’re further along than that, you might have a dilation and extraction, or D&X.

Second Trimester: Dilation and Evacuation

If you’re more than 12 weeks pregnant, your provider will use an ultrasound to date your pregnancy. The farther along you are, the more prep work you may have to undergo to prepare your body for the procedure.

While doctors can do vacuum aspirations, which is one of the pregnancy termination options you can opt for until about 14 weeks, the most common type of second-trimester pregnancy termination option is called dilation and evacuation, or D&E.

The first step a provider will take before this procedure is to prepare and dilate your cervix so that it’s not injured in the procedure. They will likely use laminaria sticks, which might be left in overnight. They might also give you a dose of a medication such as misoprostol, either by mouth or through your vagina, to soften your uterus. They may also use tools to help dilate your cervix.

Like a first-trimester pregnancy termination, you’ll lie on an exam table with your feet in stirrups, and your health care provider will swab your vagina and cervix with Betadine, inject anaesthesia into your cervix, and then use a gripping tool to hold your cervix in place.

The main difference is that in addition to using a vacuum suction in your uterus, they’ll also use forceps and other medical tools, including one called a curette to scrape the inside of your uterus. Your doctor may use ultrasound to guide them and will likely use suction or vacuum to make sure everything is cleared out. Some providers may use a medication, which you would get as a shot into your abdomen, to stop the fatal heartbeat before the procedure. Afterward, your provider may give you a medication to contract your uterus and reduce bleeding.

This procedure takes 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll rest for 30 minutes to an hour while your health care providers make sure you’re well.

Pregnancy Termination Option: Dilation and Extraction

If you’re having an abortion further along in your pregnancy, you may have to find a specialized, experienced provider to do a dilation and extraction procedure, which is a pregnancy termination option used at a later stage in pregnancy, or D&X. This is a procedure that doctors usually reserve for when there is a serious problem with the fetus or medical complications related to the mother.