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Anesthesia Options Commonly Used During Vacuum Aspiration

If you’re having a surgical abortion by vacuum aspiration, there are three different types of drugs that can be used to prevent you from feeling anything during the procedure.

What Anaesthetic Is Used During Vacuum Aspiration?

Local Anaesthetic

A local anaesthetic is a drug that can block pain signals from a certain area. It can be used alone for a surgical abortion by vacuum aspiration if you are less than 14 weeks pregnant.

  • Given as an injection into your cervix, alongside a pain relief tablet to reduce discomfort in other areas
  • Blocks pain signals from that area, but you may still feel some discomfort during the procedure
  • Sometimes taken with a pain relief table to treat any pain in other areas
  • No need to stop eating before the procedure
  • You will be able to drive right away


Conscious sedation is one of the options for vacuum aspiration after 14 weeks. It can help you to stay calm during the procedure, but it won’t put you to sleep.

  • Given through a cannula or tube inserted into the back of your hand, alongside a local anaesthetic and oral pain relief to prevent discomfort
  • Makes you feel sleepy, relaxed and less aware of what is going on
  • Eating a light meal before the procedure is allowed
  • You will remain awake through the procedure
  • Often makes your memory of the procedure hazy
  • You will feel drowsy for a while after being sedated, so you shouldn’t drive
  • You’ll need to arrange for someone to help you home from the clinic

General Anaesthetic

A general anaesthetic affects your whole body and sends you to sleep. It can be used for both types of surgical abortion, including vacuum aspiration.

  • Given as an injection or a gas you breathe in through a mask
  • Stops you from feeling anything
  • Puts you to sleep so you won’t be aware of anything until you wake up in the recovery room
  • Can leave you feeling groggy for several hours afterwards
  • You’ll need to avoid eating, usually for about six hours before the procedure
  • You shouldn’t drive for at least 24 hours after having general anaesthetic
  • You will need to arrange for someone to pick you up and help you home

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