The vast majority of abortions in this country are performed in the first trimester. If less than 13 weeks have passed since your last menstrual period, you are in the first trimester. The most common method for first trimester surgical abortions is called vacuum aspiration or suction curettage.
Inside the procedure room you will lie on a table and be positioned just like a regular GYN examination. An instrument called a speculum is placed inside your vagina and adjusted to hold the sides apart so that the physician can see directly to your cervix (the opening to your uterus). Another instrument is then used to hold your cervix in place throughout the procedure. Next, your cervix is numbed with local anesthesia (or, if you choose, IV sedation or general anesthesia is administered).
The physician will then gradually widen (dilate) the cervix. When the cervix has been dilated to the width appropriate for your stage of pregnancy, the physician will insert a small tube (cannula) which is attached to a suction machine. The machine’s suction empties the contents of the uterus through the tube. Then the doctor carefully checks the walls of the uterus with a spoon-shaped instrument (curette) to be sure no tissue remains. The entire procedure takes just a few minutes.