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What is Cervical Preparation for a Surgical Abortion?

If you are having a surgical abortion, there are a few things you will need to do to prepare for the procedure. Your doctor may ask you to avoid eating or drinking before the termination, if you are going to have a general anaesthetic. You will also be given some medication to help prepare your cervix for the procedure.


Cervical preparation before your surgical abortion is an important step that can begin up to 24 hours before the procedure itself. It helps to soften and open up your cervix, which will enable the doctor to reach your uterus and remove the contents more easily.

Medication for Cervical Preparation

One of the drugs you will be given is usually misoprostol, which is also used as part of the medical abortion procedure. The misoprostol will soften your cervix, which will make it easier to perform the surgical termination. You may also be given drugs called dilators, which can help to open up or widen your cervix, which will also assist with the procedure.

The cervical preparation drugs need to be taken at least a few hours before your surgical abortion so that they have plenty of time to take effect. Misoprostol is usually given as a pessary about three hours before the termination or as a tablet that you place under your tongue, two hours before surgery. The dilators can be given between three and 24 hours before the procedure, so you can come in to the clinic to take them the day before your abortion. The dilators need to be inserted into your cervix by the doctor. You may experience some cramps or notice spots of blood in your underwear after taking the dilators, but you will be able to go home if you’re taking them the day before the procedure.

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