Abortion means ending an unwanted pregnancy, either through
using medicines (drugs) or a surgical procedure.
It is really important to make the right decision for you.
Talking to your partner, family and friends can help, but they
might have different views to you, so it's very important to talk
to a doctor or nurse as well, either at your GP or at a local
clinic. These people will help you decide what to do by providing
information and support, but ultimately the final decision is
Abortions are free on the NHS and you can be referred by
your GP or a doctor from the sexual health
clinic. Alternatively you can refer yourself for a private
abortion. Please see the links below:
You can have either a medical or surgical abortion depending on
your stage of pregnancy. The doctor will take you though all of
this but you might like to read the following information so that
you are prepared.
Medical Abortion (known as 'the abortion pill') - early
abortion (up to 9 weeks)
A medical abortion can be performed in the first 9 weeks of
pregnancy. It does not involve any surgery. You will be given 2
appointments after the assessment. On the first appointment you
will be given a tablet (mifepristone) to swallow. The next
appointment is 36 to 48 hours later, when a tablet is placed in the
vagina. These two drugs end most early pregnancies within the
following four hours.
You will feel cramping pains like having a heavy and rather
Late abortion - (9 -20 weeks)
You can take the same tablets as for an early abortion, but you
will have to take higher doses and you may need to stay in hospital
overnight as a lot of bleeding can occur.
Surgical abortion (known as 'the
This can be carried out early or late in pregnancy. Full details
of the exact procedure will be explained by a doctor or nurse
before the abortion goes ahead.
The abortion is carried out through the vagina. There is no
wound and there are no stitches. Gentle suction is used to remove
the pregnancy from the uterus (womb). This is a very quick and
simple procedure, taking less than five minutes to perform. This
can be done whilst you are awake (under local anaesthetic) or
asleep (under general anaesthetic). You may be able to go home
afterwards, but some women may need to stay in overnight.
You may experience some bleeding for a few days (maybe up to two
weeks) after the abortion and may have pain similar to period
But if you experience the following symptoms you should go back
to the clinic or hospital as this could mean that you have an
infection which needs treatment:
- feeling unwell,
- abdominal pain,
- unusual vaginal discharge,
- bleeding that does not stop, or
- a raised temperature
Surgical dilatation and evacuation (D&E) abortion
after 15 weeks
This method is carried out under general anaesthetic. The cervix
is gently stretched and dilated to allow special forceps to remove
the pregnancy. This takes 10–20 minutes. You may be able to return
home on the same day if you are healthy and there are no
What happens after an abortion?
After the abortion procedure, you may be given a follow up
appointment to make sure that everything has gone to plan.
You may bleed for up to two weeks and, in some cases, the
bleeding may continue right up until your next period. You
are advised not to have sexual intercourse for at least two weeks
after having an abortion and only then if the bleeding has
completely stopped. This is to reduce the risk of
Many women feel low and a bit shaken up after having an
abortion. This is perfectly normal.
Having an abortion should not affect your ability to have a
child in the future. In fact, it is possible to become
pregnant again the first time you have sex after an abortion, so it
is a good idea to get
contraception sorted out straight away if this isn't
what you want.