Abortion Procedures – Frequently Asked Questions

Early Second Trimester Surgical Abortion (13 to 16 weeks)

The Women’s Centers provide the safest and most appropriate methods for terminating early second trimester pregnancy. Every patient receives specialized care for her individual needs, comfort and privacy.

Most termination procedures between 13 and 16 weeks are performed using the Dilatation and Evacuation Method (D&E). This procedure is commonly performed in one day with the use of medications that allow the cervix to soften and open so that it is safer and less difficult to remove the uterine contents. In addition to medications, Laminaria (small sticks of sterile seaweed) may be used to open and soften the cervix. This allows removal of the pregnancy tissue in a safe manner. The combination of Laminaria and medication taken by mouth generally allows the procedure to be performed safely within 3 to 4 hours. As the cervix gradually opens, patients begin to have uterine contractions which cause a lower abdominal cramping sensation.

Once the cervix has softened and become adequately dilated, patients are taken to a treatment room. The patient will lie on the exam table in the same position as when her Pap Smear is performed. If the patient desires IV Sedation, it is given at this time. Special instruments are used to remove the pregnancy gently and safely. Once the procedure is complete, patients are taken to the recovery room where vital signs and vaginal bleeding are monitored.

Lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, cramping and weakness may occur following the procedure. Once it is determined the patient can be discharged, she is given a post-operative instruction sheet describing how to care for herself at home. Patients may experience bleeding, and cramping for a few days. Patients should not lift heavy objects or strain for two weeks following the procedure. Patients should not engage in intercourse or place anything inside the vagina for three weeks.

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