Surgical Abortion – 1st Trimester Abortion
Our Process to Prepare You
When you arrive at Philadelphia Women’s Center, you will be treated with compassion and respect while receiving the highest quality, individualized medical care. Our services include a series of pre-operative assessments with medical and patient advocacy staff.
You will receive the following care as we prepare you for your procedure:
- Ultrasound – The ultrasound exam is used to measure the size of your pregnancy and determine how far along in the pregnancy you are.
- Lab testing and vital signs – Blood work is completed in order to determine your Rh factor (the positive or negative of your blood type) and your hemoglobin level (the level of iron in your blood). Your blood pressure will also be measured.
- History and Physical – Your medical history and current physical state will be reviewed, and birth control options will be discussed.
- Counseling – You have an opportunity to meet in private with a counselor or health advocate to address your questions, concerns and feelings about pregnancy and the procedure.
After your pre-operative assessment has been completed, you will be prepared for your surgery and escorted to the operating room.
First Trimester Abortion
At the Philadelphia Women’s Center, abortion procedures in the first trimester of pregnancy are performed within the first 11 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, and are completed by a procedure known as a dilation and evacuation (D&E). The procedure will take approximately 5 minutes, although your visit to the Center may take several hours.
The abortion can be performed either awake with local anesthesia or under intravenous (IV) sedation. If you choose IV sedation, you will be given medication through a needle in your arm so that you will not see, hear or feel any part of the surgery. If you choose local anesthesia you will be awake and conscious during your abortion. The local anesthetic, which is given as an injection into your cervix (the opening to your uterus) may feel like a pinching or burning sensation. It will help to relax your cervix, but you will likely experience some cramping and discomfort during the procedure.
The procedure will begin when the physician inserts a speculum into your vagina in order to view your cervix, similar to when you get a pap smear at an annual gyn visit. The physician will then dilate (open) your cervix by inserting thin metal rods, one by one, into the opening of the cervix. These rods, called dilators, gradually increase in width, with the average one being about the width of a pencil. A narrow, flexible tube will be inserted into the uterus and a vacuum aspirator will create a light suction which removes the pregnancy. The doctor may also use a small spoon-like instrument, called a curette, to go along the wall of the uterus to ensure that all pregnancy tissue has been removed. After your surgery, you will be monitored in our recovery room until you are medically cleared to go home, usually 30-45 minutes.
If you choose to have IV sedation, you will not be able to drive yourself and will need to make arrangements for someone to drive you to and from Philadelphia Women’s Center. If you choose to have local anesthesia you are able to drive yourself home or take public transportation after your surgery, however we always recommend that you bring a supportive person with you.
Click here for a copy of our pre-operation instructions, information on anesthesia options and what to expect at your visit [PWC 1st Trimester Surgical Forms]. Click here for a copy of discharge instructions [Post-Op Pamphlet].