No waiting list
About The Procedure
Length of appointments
1 – 2 hours
Recovery & aftercare
You will need someone to take you home
During your first visit, we will discuss the stage of your pregnancy. From here we will discuss your options and concerns. We will then take a comprehensive clinical assessment which includes your medical history and any medications you may be taking, conducting an ultrasound scan, a rhesus blood group assessment and any appropriate STI tests will be run to ensure that the medication we use is a suitable and safe option for you.
Once this is complete, our clinician will discuss treatment options with you and obtain written consent should you wish to proceed.
A local anaesthetic is injected into the neck of the womb. This may cause a slight burning sensation to begin with but the anaesthetic begins to work immediately. It is therefore likely to make the procedure less uncomfortable and also open the neck of the womb wide enough to pass a plastic tube.
The pregnancy tissue is removed through this tube using either a manual or an electric suction machine. This is carried out under ultrasound guidance. Once all of the pregnancy tissues have been removed, the procedure is considered complete. All instruments will be removed one at a time, including the speculum.
Please remember, just because you have booked an appointment does not mean you need to go ahead with the procedure.
A cannula (fine needle) may be placed in the back of your hand or arm so that any medications or a drip can be administered if needed. We will double check your heart rate, blood levels, and the oxygen level in your blood will be measured.
In order to perform the abortion a speculum will be inserted into the vaginal entrance to view the entrance of the cervix. Once the cervix is in view, local anaesthetic is administered which is likely to reduce the discomfort during the procedure and also open the neck of the womb, though which a tube is then inserted into the cervix and the pregnancy is removed using suction. Once the process is complete, you will be moved to the recovery room where one of our nurses will remain with you whilst you wait for your designated driver to arrive. During this time, the nurse will monitor you to ensure that you are feeling well, and if any pain killers are needed they will be dispensed to you.
For the next few days or so, you may experience crampy lower abdominal pain (strong period-like contractions) and a period-like bleed. You are advised to take regular pain relief for the first few days after the procedure.
If you experience any of the following, you must contact the clinic or seek advice from 111:
- the pain becomes severe (not going away with regular pain relief) - your bleeding is very heavy, for example, soaking sanitary pads - you have a fever or have a temperature over 37.5°C (99.5°F)
You will be provided with details for our Clarewell Clinics 24/7 Emergency Support Line after the procedure. This support service is provided by trained clinicians and is strictly for medical queries after abortion (early medical or surgical) undertaken at Clarewell Clinics.
How do I know if I am eligible for surgical abortion?
Surgical abortion is an option for you if you are over 18 years old, not allergic to the local anaesthetic we use, and do not have any serious health issues that could affect the success rate of the abortion.
Up to how many weeks of pregnancy can I be for a surgical abortion?
At Clarewell Clinics, we currently offer this procedure for pregnancies up to 10 weeks gestation.
Can I have a surgical abortion if I have had it before?
Yes. Having a surgical abortion in the past will not affect your ability to have another procedure.
How old do I have to be in order to be seen at Clarewell Clinics?
We can see patients from the age of 18 and above at our clinic. For those under 18, please contact your gp or local termination service provider (BPAS or MSI) for advice and support.
Is there a waiting period for having the surgical abortion?
No. As long as you are confident that you wish to have the procedure at the time of the consultation, we can proceed with this.
However, as having an abortion is a serious decision and one which requires a lot of thought, your clinician has the right to refuse the procedure if you show signs of being unsure.
If you are still debating whether this is the right choice for you, we would recommend booking a consultation to discuss your options further.
Are there any health conditions that might stop me from having a surgical abortion?
Here at Clarewell we use a local anaesthetic medication for surgical abortions to ensure that you feel as little discomfort as possible. If you are allergic to the medication that we use then you may not be able to proceed with the procedure. There are options for surgical abortion using general anesthesia, however, this is usually done within a hospital.
The consultation and procedure happen in one appointment, as long as it’s safe to do so.
In order to book you at the right time, with the right person, we will request you to complete our pre-appointment questionnaire.
We will begin by reviewing your questionnaire and discussing any questions you may have about the surgical abortion.
We will then check the length of pregnancy and re-confirm if this is how you want to proceed.
If you wish to continue, we will begin to administer the method of pain relief and proceed with the procedure in the same appointment.
Aftercare & Recovery
We will discuss the next steps and share a leaflet with guidance on common questions and self-care advice.
What is a surgical abortion?
Surgical abortions involve a surgical procedure to remove the pregnancy tissue from the womb.
There are two types of surgical abortion, manual/vacuum aspiration and dialation & evacuation. Here at Clarewell, we offer manual/vacuum aspiration which is a recommended surgical procedure for pregnancy between 7 weeks and 13 weeks and 6 days.
However, at Clarewell Clinics this can be carried out up to 9 weeks and 6 days. Once the abortion is complete, patients are free to be discharged and recover in the comfort of their own home.
What are the possible complications of having a surgical abortion?
There may be times when it is not possible to remove all of the pregnancy tissue. This is often not an issue as the body can expel the remaining tissue within a week or two after the procedure. As long as there is no heavy bleeding present then the body should be allowed to take its own course.
Other complications include:
Heavy bleeding that requires medical observation or intervention
Occurs in 1 out of 1000 women
Heavy bleeding that is manageable at home
Between 1 and 10 out of 100 women experience this
Retained products of conception
Injury to the womb
4 in 1000 cases
Injury to the cervix
10 in 1000 cases
Occurs in 1 in 100 women. This can be reduced by following aftercare advice.
What is the failure rate of a surgical abortion?
Most of the time surgical abortions are a success and women are able to go back to their normal life quickly after. It is highly unlikely that a surgical abortion will fail.
When can I book my surgical abortion?
You can book your surgical abortion provided you are not over 9 weeks and 6 days pregnant, your clinician has deemed you physically fit to undergo the abortion and there are no complications with either you or the pregnancy itself that causes concern.
Before the appointment
How can I prepare for my surgical abortion?
- You are allowed to eat before the procedure as long as you are not receiving general anaesthesia. If you wish to eat, we recommend that you only eat light food and water for a few hours before the procedure.
- Shower or bathe beforehand to ensure that the skin is clean so that the risk of infection can be reduced.
- Ensure that you have access to a personal phone in cases of possible emergency.
- Arrange for someone you know to drive you home from the appointment.
Will I need to take time off after my surgical abortion?
You will need two full days off of work. We recommend taking things easy for the first week or so after your abortion (i.e. no heavy lifting or intense physical labor/workouts).
We are more than happy to provide you with a medical note. Please note that we will never disclose the specific details regarding your visit.
Can I bring someone with me?
Yes. You can bring your partner, friend or family member to your appointment. In fact, we know how difficult this time can be and it always helps to have someone you know and trust by your side.
However, if you feel that you would rather not bring someone to the appointment, rest assured that our staff are here to support you and make you comfortable in any way possible. Clarewell Clinics is a safe space for all patients.
What travel arrangements should I make for after the appointment?
You must arrange to have a responsible adult to drive you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours after your procedure as you may feel tired and weak.
During the appointment
How does the surgical abortion work?
- One of our clinicians will double check your consent for the procedure to go ahead as planned.
- A cannula (fine needle) may be placed into the back of your hand or arm so that any medications or a drip can be administered if needed.
- Your heart rate and blood pressure will be measured.
- Your pulse will be taken, and the amount of oxygen in your blood will be measured by attaching a special clip onto your finger. This does not hurt.
- A speculum will be inserted into your vagina, and products of conception will be removed using a suction pump.
The doctor, nurse and healthcare assistant will be attending to you in the procedure room to make sure you are comfortable and to keep you informed through every step of the procedure.
At the end of your procedure you will be transferred to the recovery room where specially trained nursing staff will look after you. Our nursing staff will keep you hydrated, updated, and medicated to help with any nausea or pain until you are ready to be discharged home.
You will need to stay in the recovery room for at least 30 minutes. Before you leave, you will be given painkillers and antibiotics to help with your recovery at home. If your vaginal bleeding is only light, you have passed urine and you are not feeling faint or unwell, you may go home. You will be discharged when your nominated driver attends the clinic to collect you.
Does the surgical abortion hurt?
We will minimise the pain associated with the abortion by using local anaesthetic medications. You will experience some discomfort during and after the procedure for which you can take painkillers, but this should not cause you any distress or intense pain.
Can I listen to my music during the surgical abortion?
Yes, absolutely you can. Please let us know at the time of your booking (or upon your arrival) so that we are ready to accommodate your wishes.
Can I have another form of contraception after my surgical abortion?
Absolutely. We are able to offer you various types of contraception during your appointment including:
- Copper Coil - This can be fitted at the time of your procedure
- Hormonal Coil - This can be fitted at the time of your procedure
- Contraceptive implant - This can be fitted at the time of your procedure.
- Contraceptive injection: This can be given after the procedure before you go home and will need to be repeated every 12 weeks.
- Oral contraceptive pill - The first tablet should be taken that night or the next morning. You will be given advice and a supply before you leave the clinic.
- Condoms - A supply of condoms will be given to you before you leave the clinic if you need them.
If you prefer, you can arrange an appointment for your contraceptive requirements at your GP surgery or a local sexual health clinic. If you do not wish to fall pregnant again, please use a reliable method of contraception until you can discuss your options.
Can I have an STI test during my appointment?
Absolutely. Please request this at the time of booking so that we may book you an extended appointment.
For more information about our STI tests, please visit this page.
What happens if my surgical abortion does not go as planned?
We will only charge the consultation fee.
Do I need to bring feminine hygiene products for use after the surgical abortion?
We do provide sanitary towels in our clinics, however, If you have a preference in feminine hygiene products then you are welcome to bring them in clinic for use after the abortion procedure.
We recommended that no invasive products are used (tampons, menstrual cups, etc) and that only sanitary towels or panty liners are used for at least the first week in order to minimise the risk of infection whilst your body heals.
What happens to the remains?
It is your choice to have a private burial or cremation for the foetal remains. If you wish to not be involved with this, then the remains will be treated and handled with respect and disposed of in an incinerator.
After the appointment
What should I expect after my surgical abortion?
- There may be a period-like bleed for a few days after the procedure, this should gradually stop.
- Your next period should arrive within the next 3 - 8 weeks and may be heavier or lighter than usual.
- You may experience cramping pain for up to two weeks.
What am I allowed to do after my procedure?
- You may shower and bathe as normal.
You can take pain medication to help with any discomfort.
- Avoid sexual contact, use of tampons and swimming for the next 4 weeks after the procedure. This is to reduce the risk of an infection.
- Avoid strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects within the first 2 weeks after the procedure.
- You should perform a pregnancy test 4 weeks after the procedure (please do not perform a pregnancy test before 4 weeks as it may result in a false positive).
What do I do if I think I have a problem after the appointment?
Support is available from your consultant, and there are services available that your doctor or specialist can refer you to which offer a listening ear, information, or emotional and psychological support.
Will I require a follow up appointment after my surgical abortion?
Yes, a follow up appointment is required approximately 2 weeks after the procedure has taken place. This is to ensure that you are recovering according to plan. If you have any questions or concerns before your two week follow up, you are more than welcome to contact us and we will do our best to put you at ease.
What if I think I am still pregnant?
If you are still experiencing pregnancy symptoms, take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after the procedure. If it is positive, contact us for help.
How soon after my surgical abortion can I have sex?
To reduce the risk of infection, we recommend refraining from sex until any bleeding has stopped. If you do resume having sex, use a reliable method of contraception to avoid any unwanted pregnancies, as abortion has no effect on your fertility.
When should I expect my periods to return after the surgical abortion?
Dependent upon the usual length of your cycle (usually it is around 28 days), you should expect your period within 4-6 weeks of having an abortion.
How soon after my surgical abortion will I become fertile again?
You will be fertile as soon as the surgical abortion is successfully completed.
Will having a surgical abortion now impact my ability to have a baby later?
Having an abortion does not impact your fertility nor your ability to carry a baby to term in most cases. The procedure is very simple, and you should expect to have your period within four weeks of having an abortion - meaning it is physically possible to become pregnant again soon after the procedure due to it ‘restarting’ your menstrual cycle. If becoming pregnant is something you are concerned about, you can discuss contraception options with your consultant.
Consultation Only (In Person) £150
Consultation + Procedure + Follow Up £810
Find out if you can claim your visit
Page reviewed by Dr Praveen Jayadeva
Last reviewed date: 10 October 2022
Next review due: 10 October 2022
Whilst this content is written and reviewed by sexual health specialists, it is for general guidance only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your clinician.
References & Further Reading
- NICE: Abortion before 14 weeks: choosing between medical or surgical abortion
- NHS: Abortion – What happens
- An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology: Pain management for medical and surgical termination of pregnancy between 13 and 24 weeks of gestation: a systematic review
- An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology: A comparison of medical and surgical termination of pregnancy: choice, emotional impact and satisfaction with care
- Human Reproduction Update: Preparation of the cervix for surgical termination of pregnancy in the first trimester
- European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology: A randomized controlled trial comparing surgical termination of pregnancy with and without continuous ultrasound guidance
- Health Technology Assessment: Randomised preference trial of medical versus surgical termination of pregnancy less than 14 weeks’ gestation
- An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology: Medical versus surgical termination of pregnancy in primigravid women—is the next delivery differently at risk? A population‐based register study
- Human Reproduction: A randomized study comparing the use of sublingual to vaginal misoprostol for pre‐operative cervical priming prior to surgical termination of pregnancy in the first trimester
- General Hospital Psychiatry: Psychological distress symptoms in women undergoing medical vs. surgical termination of pregnancy
- MSI: Abortion Side Effects & Aftercare | MSI Reproductive Choices UK
- NHS: Abortion – Risks – NHS
- Nupas: having an abortion | nupas