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Early Abortion Aspiration Procedure


Updated June 09, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Early Abortion Aspiration Procedure

Aspiration Abortion

Photo Courtesy of Keith Brofsky/Getty Images

Definition of the Manual Vacuum Aspiration Procedure:

The early abortion manual aspiration procedure is one of three available options to end an early pregnancy (the abortion pill and machine aspiration are the other methods). This procedure can be used 5-12 weeks after your last menstrual period.

During the aspiration procedure, a hand-held syringe is used to generate suction, and the whole procedure takes between 5 and 15 minutes. There is no cutting or scraping of the uterus in an aspiration abortion (as compared to a D&C, or dilation and curettage abortion). This early abortion is quick and can be safely completed in a regular medical office or clinic.

During the Manual Aspiration Procedure:

  • Your doctor will insert a speculum
  • Your cervix will be numbed with a local anesthetic
  • A small plastic dilator may be used to stretch open the cervix
  • A thin tube is then inserted
  • A hand-held syringe is attached to the tube
During this time, you may feel mild to moderate cramping because your uterus contracts when the tissue is removed. There is some discomfort, yet the cramping should lessen once the tube is taken out. You may also feel faint, sweaty or nauseated.

After the Manual Aspiration Abortion:

Based on how you are feeling, you can usually resume normal activities the next day. You will probably need to wait about a week for sexual activity or to use tampons.

Possible Side Effects of Manual Vacuum Aspiration:

After the procedure, you will most likely be bleeding (yet there tends to be less bleeding after the aspiration procedure than with the use of the abortion pill and the bleeding is lighter than a typical period). You could also have some spotting for the first 2 weeks. You may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.

You may also experience more cramps that occur for anywhere from a few hours after the aspiration procedure to a few days (as your uterus is shrinking back to its normal size). Your doctor may suggest acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve this cramping.

Effectiveness of Manual Aspiration Abortion:

The manual aspiration procedure is approximately 98-99% effective. Yet, in rare cases, an aspiration procedure may not end a pregnancy. This is more likely to occur in manual aspirations performed before 6 weeks - where about 3% fail and require a repeat procedure.

Final Thoughts:

Manual aspiration abortion is safe for future pregnancy as there is minimal possibility of developing scar tissue. This procedure is typically safe, effective and has a low risk for complications. Minor complications that could occur include injury to the uterine lining or cervix or infection.


Keder LM. "Best practices in surgical abortion."Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2003, 189:418–422.

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