First trimester surgical abortion procedure Vacuum Aspiration


*Offered to patients who are between 5w 3d minimum – 13w 6d maximum*

Vacuum aspiration (surgical abortion) patients will meet with the physician prior to entering the exam room. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss any additional questions or concerns you may have. Trained female workers attend each patient throughout her abortion experience to provide emotional support and assist with relaxation.

Soothing music, lighting, and our commitment to assisting each patient individually help to provide a safe and supportive environment.

Surgical Abortion Procedure

Surgical abortion for 1st trimester - North Florida Women's Services

“All of my questions were answered and the doctor put me at ease.” – patient comment

  1. Once in the exam room, the patient will be left with instructions to undress from the waist down and given a drape sheet to cover with.
  2. When the physician and support staff return, an ultrasound will be done to determine the age and location of the pregnancy.
  3. Nitrous oxide gas, a mild sedative that helps with relaxation, will be offered at no additional cost.
  4. The doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina, similar to a pap-smear, so that the doctor can see the patients cervix.
  5. Then the cervix is prepared first with a disinfectant. This will feel cold and wet.
  6. Then the doctor will numb the cervix using a local anesthetic. This will be administered via 3 injections which will feel like a slight pinch and burn. Typically the third injection is not felt as the cervix will be sufficiently numbed.
  7. Once prepared the cervical opening is gently dilated.
  8. After dilation a small cannula is inserted through the cervical opening into the uterine cavity. The cannula is attached to the aspirator which provides a light suction to remove the pregnancy. The aspiration usually last for about 2 minutes, and then the procedure is complete.

Women describe the pain or discomfort associated with the procedure as mild to moderate to severe cramping. Most women tolerate the procedure well without additional sedation which can increase risks and prolong recovery time. Once the procedure is finished the doctor and support staff will exit the room, but first the patient will be directed to re-dress. A support staff member will return a few minutes later to guide the patient to the recovery room.


The vacuum aspiration procedure is followed by a recovery period of at least 30-45 minutes, depending on the patient’s own situation and needs. During this time her condition and vital signs will be monitored.

She will be offered refreshments, have an opportunity to rest, review after care instructions, and discuss any medications that may have been prescribed. Heating pads and pain medication are available to assist in relieving discomfort.

Patients are encouraged to rest the remainder of the day. Although heavy lifting and strenuous exercise are discouraged for the first 10 days following the abortion procedure, many women are able to return to school or work the following day.

If the patient has any additional questions or concerns at this time, she is encouraged to ask them.

Post procedure medications and instructions are given prior to discharge and appropriate contact information is needed in case of an emergency.

We area proud member of the National Abortion Federation (“NAF”), an association of medical professionals who provide assistance to women seeking abortions including educational materials and sometimes financial assistance to women that qualify. If you are interested in financial assistance please ask for contact information for our patient funding coordinator when you make your appointment at North Florida Women’s Services.