How is an abortion performed?

There are two different abortion procedures: surgical and medical. The method will depend on how far your pregnancy has come, and possibly on other medical assessments.

You are free to choose between a surgical or medical abortion, as long as it is considered medically sound. A surgical abortion is performed in hospital, while a medical abortion can either be carried out in hospital or at home.

Whether you opt for a medical or a surgical abortion, you will be given an appointment for a pre-examination at the hospital. During the pre-examination, healthcare staff will measure your blood pressure, listen to your heart and lungs, and take an ultrasound to determine exactly how many weeks you have been pregnant. The ultrasound will be internal, which involves inserting a small oblong rod into the vagina.

Surgical abortion?
A surgical abortion is a minor procedure where you are normally given general anaesthesia. However, this can also be done with the aid of a local anaesthetic to numb the vagina. The actual procedure takes about ten minutes. A tube is inserted into the vagina and the contents of the uterus are aspirated and removed before the uterine lining is gently scraped away. This is also known as “curettage”. You will remain under observation in the department for a few hours before going home. Should you have any pain following the procedure, you will be offered pain-relieving medication. Learn more about surgical abortions here.

Medical abortion?
A medical abortion can be performed at home or in hospital. You are free to choose whether you wish to carry out the abortion at home or in hospital, based on a few criteria:

In order to complete the abortion at home, you must be over 18 years of age and have an adult with you. You must also be healthy and less than nine weeks pregnant. A medical abortion in hospital can be performed until the end of week 12 of the pregnancy.

After an abortion
After an abortion, vaginal bleeding will gradually stop after two to three weeks. Use a menstrual pad as long as you are bleeding. Tampons present a risk of infection and must be avoided. You should avoid sexual intercourse, swimming and bathing after an abortion, or for as long as you are bleeding. Showering is fine.

The most common symptoms afterwards are bleeding and abdominal pain. There is little risk of infection. There is no regular check-up after an abortion, but you should take a pregnancy test after four weeks to make sure the pregnancy is terminated (around one in 100 are still pregnant after a medical abortion). If your menstrual period does not return after four to six weeks, you should take a pregnancy test or contact your doctor to find out if you are still pregnant.

There are rarely any physical complications after an abortion, whether medical or surgical. However, it is important to contact the hospital if:

  • you are bleeding through more than six overnight menstrual pads in two hours
  • you have a fever
  • you have had pain for more than 14 days
  • you have heavy bleeding with clots for more than 14 days
  • you have been bleeding for more than four weeks

Bleeding after an abortion
It is normal to bleed for two to three weeks after an abortion. You should use a menstrual pad as long as the bleeding lasts and avoid tampons and menstrual cups. Contact the hospital if you are bleeding through more than six overnight/extra-large menstrual pads in two hours, or if you have heavy bleeding with clots for more than 14 days.

Do you need someone to talk to?
At Amathea, you will meet healthcare professionals with extensive experience in counselling on abortion and miscarriage, regardless of the type or when it occurred. We are a neutral healthcare service, have a duty of confidentiality, and can help you in your situation and in making your decision. You may come alone or together with your partner or co-parent.

All of our services are free of charge. We offer sessions in Norwegian and English. We can also book interpreters for other languages. A session here lasts about an hour, and you can talk with us on video, by phone, or at one of our offices. You decide how many sessions you need, and we will schedule these together.

Source: Helsenorge