Termination of Pregnancy: The operation

Termination of Pregnancy: The operation

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What is it?

It is clearly in your best interests , both for physical and psychological reason, to the pregnancy terminated. This is a very difficult and distressing decision for you to make. Your visit to the hospital will be made as smooth as possible. The womb needs to be cleared out with a small operation. This will make sure that all the pregnancy tissues have left the womb.

The operation

You will have a general anaesthetic and will be completely asleep. Special instruments are passed into the womb through the vagina. The inside of the womb is gently suctioned and scraped to clear out pregnancy tissue. Usually the operation can be done as a day case. This means you come into hospital on the day of the termination and go home the same day.

Any alternatives

Not really. You have decided that you do not wish to have the baby. You do not wish to have the baby adopted. Medical termination of pregnancy may be an alternative procedure offered.

Before the operation

Stop smoking and get your weight down if you are overweight. (See Healthy Living). If you know that you have problems with your blood pressure, your heart, or your lungs, ask your family doctor to check that these are under control. Check you have a relative or friend who can come with you to the hospital, take you home, and look after you for the first week after the operation. Sort out any tablets, medicines, inhalers that you are using. Keep them in their original boxes and packets. Bring them to the hospital with you. On the ward, you may be checked for past illnesses and may have special tests to make sure that you are well prepared and you can have the operation as safely as possible. . Please tell the doctors and nurses of any allergies to tablets, medicines or dressings. You will have the operation explained to you and will be asked to fill in an operation consent form. Many hospitals now run special preadmission clinics, where you visit for an hour or two, a few weeks or so before the operation for these checks.

After - in hospital

You will have a sanitary pad in place. The drugs given for a general anaesthetic will make you clumsy, slow and forgetful for about 24 hours. The nurses will help you with everything you need until you can do things for yourself. Do not make any important decisions, do not drive, do not use machinery at work or at home, do not even boil a kettle during this time. Any pain quickly settles after you have been to the operating theatre. But you may be left with some tummy discomfort. Take the painkillers you would use for painful periods. There will be slight bleeding like the end of a period lasting for about a week. Only use external pads for any loss. You can start taking the contraceptive pill the day after the operation, even if you are bleeding. You can bathe or shower as often as you wish. The nurses will advise about sick notes, certificates etc. If your blood group test shows that you are Rhesus negative, you will need a special injection before you go home. This will stop problems with blood transfusions and with pregnancies in the future. Pregnancy can happen within weeks of a termination. You must use proper contraception, if you do not want this to happen. You can have sex three weeks after the termination, as long as you are not having any bleeding or discharge.

Possible complications

As with any operation under general anaesthetic there is a very small risk of complications related to your heart or you lungs. The tests that you will have before the operation will make sure that you can have the operation in the safest possible way and will bring the risk for such complications very close to zero. 

Sometimes the bleeding is very heavy with clots. Other times the bleeding does not stop in a week. Phone the ward if you are worried. More serious complications occur in less than 1% of cases and include: a) severe blood loss that will require transfusion, b) damage to the vagina or the womb by the instruments used to terminate the pregnancy which may require an operation to fix and c) an infection of the womb that will require you to come back to the hospital and be given antibiotics). Termination of pregnancy is a very distressing experience. It is very likely that you will have great sadness and regret. It may well be weeks or months before you feel back to normal. Having someone close during this time will help see you through. Rarely, in probably less than 1% of cases, a termination may cut down the chance of having a baby in the future. Overall you have to keep in mind that the more weeks you are pregnant the higher the chances of complications after termination. 

General advice

We hope these notes will help you through your operation. They are a general guide. They do not cover everything. Also, all hospitals and surgeons vary a little. If you have any queries or problems, please ask the doctors or nurses.


Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

Get a quote for a private abortion >



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