Pregnancy termination - which method?

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There are different ways of terminating a pregnancy. Which method is best for you depends on how long you've been pregnant.

Very early termination: 7 to 16 days overdue

You can have a very early termination when your period is 7 to 16 days overdue. The treatment consists of vacuum aspiration: the contents of the uterus are gently sucked out via a very thin plastic tube.

If you've only been pregnant for a very short time (less than 7 days overdue), the treatment will be postponed. Otherwise it might not work. The treatment can be carried out a week from when your last period was due.

Abortion pill: 9 weeks overdue

You can have an early medical abortion, taking the ‘abortion pill’, up to 9 weeks after the start of your last period. There are 2 different medicines. On day 1 of the treatment, you are given a medicine that causes the pregnancy hormones to stop working. 2 days later, you take the other medicine, which causes abdominal cramps and generates a ‘miscarriage’. This can take a few hours. When you take the abortion pill, you may be affected by nausea, diarrhoea and, sometimes, heavy blood loss. The advantage of the abortion pill, compared to other treatments, is that you can do it at home.

Vacuum aspiration: 6 to 12 weeks overdue

Are you around 6 to 12 weeks pregnant and have you never given birth? The pregnancy can be terminated with a surgical abortion procedure called a vacuum aspiration. This is how it works: the cervix is disinfected and given a local anaesthetic. Then the cervix is dilated so that a plastic suction tube can be inserted. The foetus is sucked out through this tube. You will probably feel a short but quite intense menstrual cramp. The whole procedure takes around 5 to 15 minutes. You could experience abdominal cramps for a few days afterwards. You might have some blood loss as well - about as much as a normal period.

After the procedure, you are given a prescription for antibiotics and an information letter. This letter gives instructions and tips for the time following the abortion.

From 13 weeks

Have you been pregnant for more than 13 weeks? A termination is still possible, but not in all the clinics. There are various methods. After this procedure, you often have to stay a bit longer at the abortion clinic to recover. Staying in overnight is rarely necessary.