In almost all cases, some form of anaesthesia or sedation is used during a surgical abortion. The type of anaesthesia used depends on how advanced the pregnancy is, and your personal preferences. There are three main options:
- Local anaesthetic: This is the lightest option and can be used for abortions of under 14 weeks when a vacuum aspiration is performed. You will be given a local anaesthetic injection near the cervix. You may also be given painkiller tablets to take by mouth. You may drive after the procedure and you will not need someone to escort you home or back to the hotel.
- Conscious sedation: This is usually used for abortions of under 15 weeks when a vacuum aspiration is performed and the woman chooses additional sedation to reduce pain and anxiety during the procedure. It is usually used in conjunction with a local anaesthetic (see above). A Venflon (cannula) is placed in a vein of your hand and you will be given sedative medication intravenously. You do not need to fast before having conscious sedation, but you will not be able to drive home and you will need someone to escort you back home or to the hotel and stay with you at least until the next day.
- General anaesthetic: This is the most complete anaesthetic option, and if used you will be asleep for the whole abortion procedure. Any abortion procedure can be performed under general anaesthetic, but it is only mandatory in abortions of over 15 weeks when dilation and evacuation (D&E) is performed. For abortions in less advanced pregnancies you will also have the option of local anaesthetic, with or without conscious sedation, but some women opt for general anaesthesia regardless to ensure they do not experience or remember the procedure itself. If having a general anaesthetic you will need to fast before the procedure. If you do not fast as instructed, your abortion will be cancelled or postponed. Before the procedure you will have a Venflon (cannula) placed in a vein of your hand and you will be injected with anaesthetic medication. You will then wake up in the recovery area after the procedure is done. You cannot drive yourself home after a general anaesthetic and someone will beed to escort you back home or to the hotel and stay with you at least for the next 24 hours.