Abortion by Non-Surgical Manual Vacuum Aspiration

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 by Dr Joan F.

For many women researching early abortion methods, the idea of having to go through a surgery sounds scary. Unfortunately, many of these women also believe that surgical abortion is the only choice that they have. Most people have not heard about the non-surgical Manual Vacuum Aspiration Procedure, which according to the World Health Organization, is the safest and simplest way to end an early pregnancy. This procedure, which has been around for decades and is used commonly for abortion care and miscarriage management in other countries around the world, uses only plastic instruments and a handheld device. There is no need for the electric suction, uterine scraping, and general anesthesia like are utilized in the surgical abortion method. This greatly reduces the rate of complication both during and after the procedure, and allows for a very quick recovery time.

This procedure is completed in a single 1-2 hour office visit, after which, our patients are able to resume their normal daily routine such as school or work.

The procedure is performed by the doctor and takes only 5 minutes to complete. The first 1-3 minutes of the procedure is just like a normal pap exam. The doctor will perform an ultrasound first to obtain an accurate measurement and determine gestational age. She then will insert a speculum and clean the cervix. A local anesthetic is used at this time to assist with the stretching of the cervix. Next, the doctor will slightly dilate the cervix using a series of plastic rods and insert a small, straw-like instrument called a cannula. The cannula is then connected to the handheld device, called an aspirator, which will apply gentle pressure to the uterus and cause it to contract and expel its contents. During this time, which usually lasts for 1-2 minutes, it is normal to have moderate to strong menstrual-like cramping. This is a normal and healthy response to the procedure.

Once the procedure is completed, the doctor will perform another ultrasound. This will allow her to see that the uterus is empty, that there is no ongoing, active bleeding, and that the procedure was successful. Because the procedure’s success can be confirmed before the patient leaves the office, there is no need for a follow-up visit. After about 10-15 minutes of recovery, the patient is then able to dress and leave the office, and can resume all normal daily activities at this time. It is expected that she will have up to 2 weeks of on-and-off bleeding after the Manual Aspiration Procedure, and her normal period should return in approximately 4-6 weeks.