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Methods of abortion

The interior of a room in a doctors clinic.

The abortion pill

  • This works for up to 9 weeks after the date that you had your last period.It involves two or three visits to the clinic or hospital.
  • You take tablets given to you by the clinic or hospital at the first visit. This causes the lining of your uterus to breakdown and bleed as if you were having your period.
  • Two days later you visit again and have prostaglandin pessary (tablet) inserted into your vagina. This softens and opens up the cervix or neck of the womb and the pregnancy is lost within 4-6 hours. This sometimes involves having strong pains like period pains.
  • For a small number of people (less than one in twenty) this method does not work and you have to have the suction method described below.

The suction, or vacuum aspiration, method

  • This can be used up to 12-14 weeks after you have had your last period.
  • You normally will be put out by having a general anaesthetic which may, when you come round from it, make you feel tired for a bit.
  • You don"t normally have to stay in the clinic or hospital overnight.
  • It is sometimes possible to have this done under local anaesthetic.
  • Afterwards you may have some bleeding for up to 14 days.

Both these methods are very safe and are unlikely to lead to any complications like not being able to have a baby later on.

For abortions after 12 weeks, different methods of abortion are used. There is a similar method as the abortion pill method but with some variation, and there may be more pain and bleeding. Another method is dilating your cervix under anaesthetic and sucking out the foetal remains.