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Manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) can usually be performed with just a local anaesthetic, but for a surgical abortion you will usually need a general anaesthetic. Your doctor will tell you which kind you are having.
Both local and general anaesthetics work by blocking the pain signals that travel along your nerves. Local anaesthetics only block these signals from a specific area. General anaesthetic blocks all your pain signals and it will also send you to sleep. You won’t be aware of anything that happens during the procedure.
Local anaesthetic is given as an injection. General anaesthetic may involve both an injection and a gas that will be given to you through a face mask. You will usually be asked to count backwards as you breathe from the mask, and you should gradually drift to sleep.
As with any kind of medication, there is a risk that you could have a bad reaction to an anaesthetic. The doctor will ask about your health and any medications you are taking in order to ensure it is safe for you to have a local or general anaesthetic. However, there is a still a chance of complications and the risk is slightly higher with a general anaesthetic.
Once the numbness from a local anaesthetic wears off, you shouldn’t feel any different. If you’ve been given a general anaesthetic for a surgical abortion, you should expect to feel groggy when you wake up and your memory may be a bit hazy. You will probably spend at least a couple of hours recovering in the hospital after a general anaesthetic. When you are ready to go home, you should arrange for someone to pick you up as you won’t be able to drive for 48 hours. You should take some time off work and rest at home while the anaesthetic wears off.
“ When I found that I was unexpectedly pregnant, I wanted a someone to talk to who would be sympathetic and unbaised and who would go through all my options in detail. This is exactly what I found with the team at 132 Healthwise. Although it was a very difficult time, the sensivitiy and understanding of the team was remarkable. I would recommend them to anyone who finds themselves in my situation. ”
Miss CM, London
"I panicked when I discovered that I was five weeks pregnant. It was a total shock and I wanted to deal wih the problem urgently. I knew that I didn't want to keep the pregnancy, for a vareity of reasons, but I didn't know how to deal with it. Rather than waiting for an NHS appointment, a friend recommended I rang 132 Healthwise. From the first phone call I was put at ease. I was given an appointment the next day, when I had a scan and saw the consultant. I had many questions, all of which were dealt with in detail and with sympathy. I made the decision to go ahead with a medical abortion, which was very straightforward. I had the consultants personal phone number, so I could ring him at any time, if I had worries or further questions. Nobody wants to be in this situation, but the staff at 132 Healthwise made it as trouble free as possible."
Miss AF, London
Abortion carried out by medicine rather than surgery.
The procedure is done with general anesthesia and oral pain-relieving medications.
Diagnosis and treatment of early pregnancy problems including abortion, sexually transmitted infections (STIs).