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A surgical abortion might be one of the options you discuss with your doctor when you attend your initial consultation to talk about terminating a pregnancy, depending on the length of the pregnancy. In some cases, you may be able to choose between having a medical abortion and a surgical termination.
The idea of a surgical abortion can be scary. The term surgical conjures up images of scalpels and scars, but in fact, a surgical termination does not involve any cutting. The procedure is simply called surgical because it will take place in an operating theatre. In the case of abortions provided through 132 Healthwise, this operating theatre will be in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
You do have to undergo a general anaesthetic for a surgical termination, so it is not suitable for everyone. In order to be anaesthetised safely, you will need to avoid eating or drinking anything for six hours before the surgery, and you will need to have someone to take you home after the operation. You shouldn’t drive for 48 hours after having a general anaesthetic, and as you may still feel drowsy, it is best to have someone there to help you home and look after you overnight. You should also plan to spend the next day resting.
Any kind of operation, particularly one carried out under a general anaesthetic, is a significant procedure to undergo, so it is important that you know what to expect and to make sure that you take care of yourself as instructed after the procedure. You won’t feel any pain during the procedure, thanks to the anaesthetic, but you could experience some cramping later, which you can treat with paracetamol or another painkiller. You will also be given a course of antibiotics to prevent infection and you should expect some bleeding.
If it is possible for you to have a surgical abortion, your doctor will explain the procedure and its risks in more detail during your consultation. You will be able to ask any questions that you might have about the different types of abortion that are available, and raise any concerns about undergoing surgery. It is important for you to feel comfortable about the procedure, and to take some time to think about your options.