Risks of Surgical Abortion

Our Abortion Clinic

Her Choice Women’s Clinic provides medical and surgical abortion in Orange County. As a family planning clinic, we serve women that need help with an unplanned pregnancy. As part of such help, we have the obligation to present the facts and allow each person to make the difficult choice.

Part of the information that must be presented to each woman is the risk of surgery. Every type of procedure has some possibility of complication, no matter how minor or routine it may be. In order to make an educated decision whether or not to proceed with such a procedure, one must first know the possible chances of bad things that could happen. This is also true for someone that wants to have a termination at our clinic.

Surgical Abortion Orange County

Possible Abortion Complications:

Infection is one such possibility when performing a D and C. There are bacteria in the vagina, and they could travel up into the uterus and cause an infection. To minimize this possibility, in our medical clinic we give antibiotics before the procedure as well as afterwards. Also, we use sterile instruments and cleanse inside the vagina with a powerful antiseptic called betadine solution. To minimize infection risk, it is recommended that nothing get inserted in the vagina afterwards for 4 weeks. This means no sexual activity and no tampons.

Bleeding excessively is another risk of pregnancy interrruption. A cenception has a large demand for blood to sustain itself, and naturally the pregnant uterus has a high amount of blood flowing to it. There will be some bleeding during and after the process, and this is expected. However, sometimes the bleeding is higher than average, and if it is too much that constitutes a hemorrhage. In our medical facility, we usually inject the uterus with medications that help the blood vessels go into spasm in order to lower blood loss. We also have medications to give in case of excessive bleeding. Regardless, heavy bleeding could occur despite medications.

During the dilation of the cervix, as well as during the curettage, there is also the risk of perforating the uterus. A perforation means causing a hole in the uterus. A perforation that occurs during the D and C usually heals on its own. At other times, however, it can lead to heavy bleeding, or allow the surgical instrument to come into contact with other internal organs and cause them to be damaged. Injuries to other internal organs like the intestines or bladder would need to be repaired by having extensive abdominal surgery.

Any of the above complications can be significant enough to require hospitalization and further surgeries. They can also be severe enough to cause death.

Even though a D and C has such risks, the good news is that the likelihood of them happening is extremely low. They happen on the order of less than 1% of the time. In the hands of an experienced doctor (such as in our family planning clinic) it happens even more rarely than that.

Of course the alternative to an interruption is to continue the pregnancy. Many people only mention the risks without mentioning the risks of the alternative, which is continuation and childbirth. Unfortunately, childbirth also carries the chance of bad things happening. There is the chance of infection, bleeding, pulmonary embolism, eclamptic seizures and stroke as well as some others. In fact, the possibility and severity of childbirth related risks are higher than those of a termination.

All of these pros and cons must be weighed accordingly in order to make an informed decision. Please remember that what we mention here is only meant to provide information on risks for general knowledge. It is not meant as a substitute for face to face contact and individual advice that can only be offered by consulting with an abortion provider. If you need more information on such facts, please call us to schedule a consultation.

Learn more about abortion history here. 

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Our core value is one of respect, inclusiveness, and empathy.

We are a community women’s clinic and abortion center that provides low cost, affordable reproductive health care for the women of Southern California, located in Santa Ana, Orange County.

Surgical Abortion Process

Prior to the cervical dilation process, a local anesthetic is given to numb the cervix and minimize discomfort. Lidocaine is circumferentially injected around the cervix, providing a cervical block of the nerves that arise from the cervix. We do not recommend general anesthesia (going to sleep), because inducing severe sedation can jeopardize the body’s normal reflexes and cause loss of breathing, which is potentially dangerous. Since the procedure is relatively quick and minor, the safest way to achieve pregnancy elimination by is with local anesthesia.

During this process, the cervix has to be opened in order to obtain access to the uterus. This can be accomplished via mechanical means, chemical means, or both.

Dilators are utilized to physically open the cervix sequentially, starting at a low caliper and slowly moving upwards. Laminaria are small objects that also open the cervix mechanically, and are made of a type of seaweed plant. Prostaglandin is utilized to soften and open the cervix chemically. The amount of dilation depends on the gestation of the pregnancy. The further along the pregnancy, the higher the caliper of dilation in order to be able to terminate it.

A small curette (plastic catheter) is then passed into the uterus, and using suction, the contents of the uterus are evacuated.

Surgical Abortion FAQ

The cost depends on the age of the conception. It is lowest whenever it is less than 9 weeks of pregnancy (up to 9 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period). After that, the cost increases for each additional week. It is best to call us at 714-966-9094 to get a more exact cost. On the day of your visit we will have to perform an ultrasound to determine the exact age of the conception. The fee is all inclusive, and includes the cost of blood work, medications administered during the procedure, ultrasound examination, local anesthesia, as well as post operative follow up visit.

As with any surgery, it does carry some risk. Although terminations are usually very safe, there is a small risk of infection, bleeding, uterine perforation, blood transfusion, hospitalization, hysterectomy, sterility, or even death. However, the risks of such events are low, and in experienced hands are very low. Such risks must be weighed against the risks of continuing the conception, which carries risks that are similar or higher in likelihood. The risks for the pill are less, which is the reason we recommend it over the surgery if you are early enough and a candidate to take it.

The answer is possibly, although highly unlikely. If one of the above complications occurr, there is an increased likelihood of infertility in the future. However, since such events are rare, the likelihood of future infertility is also rare

In most cases, mild cramps and slight vaginal bleeding is the extent of all that is expected afterwards. Some discomfort and cramping is normal, as is some bleeding. The bleeding usually lightens significantly or ceases within 2-3 weeks. If the bleeding is heavier than a period, or lasts longer than 3 weeks, you should seek an evaluation by us. If the pain is severe, or you notice heavy discharge or fevers or chills, contact us.

The typical options include general and local anesthesia. General anesthesia presents a higher risk of death, aspiration pneumonia, uterine perforation, and vaginal bleeding. Therefore, for safety reasons, we do not offer general anesthesia. We have found that local anesthesia is safer and provides adequate pain relief during the process. Local anesthesia is sometimes combined with a mild sedative / tranquilizer, and provides adequate pain relief.

It is best to be accompanied by another adult, and ideally to have that adult be able to drive you. We do not recommend that you drive, walk home, or take the bus by yourself.

You may have someone accompany you while in the waiting lobby. However, we request that only one support person accompany each patient. Also, both for safety as well as confidentiality reasons, non-patients are not permitted in the recovery area or procedure room.

The actual surgical procedure takes no more than 30 minutes. However, preparing you for the procedure takes much longer, since a history and exam must be performed, as well as paperwork, blood work, an ultrasound, and time to observe you afterwards. The bulk of the time spent is allowing the pre-operative medications, including antibiotics and those that prepare the uterus to take effect. All together, plan on spending at least 5-6 hours at our medical clinic if you plan to have the surgical procedure.

A follow up visit is always recommended between 3 to 4 weeks later. This is necessary to ensure that it was successful, as well as to address any problems that may have arisen. Occasionally, some pregnancy tissue may have been retained, and this needs to be evacuated. Therefore, a follow up visit at our medical clinic is very important to ensure that the unplanned pregnancy has completely resolved without any problems.

Although we welcome walk-in patients and try to accommodate them as much as possible, we cannot guarantee that they will be seen that day. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you obtain an appointment.

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