Choices: Surgical Abortion
A surgical abortion ends a pregnancy by surgically removing the contents of the uterus. Different procedures are used for surgical abortion, depending on how many weeks of pregnancy have passed.
Reference Care before and after a surgical abortion includes a physical exam and lab tests, education about what to expect, self-care instructions, symptoms that mean you should call your doctor, and birth control planning.
Surgical methods in the first trimester (5 to 12 weeks)
- Reference Manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) or machine vacuum aspiration uses suction through a small tube to empty the uterus of all tissue.
Surgical method in the second trimester
- Reference Dilation and evacuation (D&E) is typically done when an abortion occurs in the second 12 weeks (second Reference trimester Opens New Window) of pregnancy. It usually includes a combination of Reference vacuum aspiration Opens New Window, Reference dilation and curettage (D&C) Opens New Window, and the use of surgical instruments (such as forceps) to clear the uterus of fetal and placental tissue.
A D&E is most commonly used during the second trimester because it has a lower complication risk than induction abortion.
Nonsurgical method in the second trimester
- Reference Induction abortion ends a second-trimester pregnancy by using medicines to start (induce) contractions, which expel (push) the fetus from the uterus. If the fetus has severe medical problems, a woman may choose to have an induction abortion.
See the What to Think About section of this topic for a comparison between medical abortion and surgical abortion.