Abortion at 20, 21, 22, 23 & 24 Weeks


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Abortions carried out at 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 weeks into your pregnancy are referred to as late abortions and there are two different options available to you at this stage.

Surgical Two-stage Abortion

As the name suggests there are two stages to this method of abortion.

  • How is the procedure carried out?

During the first stage of the treatment your cervix, the entrance to your womb is softened and opened or dilated.  This can take a few hours to take effect.  You may or may not be offered an anaesthetic at this stage of the procedure.  The heartbeat of the foetus is then stopped.

The second stage is carried out under general anaesthetic.  The doctor will use forceps and a suction tube to remove the foetus from your womb.  This is the same method as used in the Surgical Dilation and Evacuation procedure.

  • Will the procedure be painful?

Being under general anaesthetic means you won’t feel anything during the treatment itself but you might experience some period like cramps afterwards.  If you do this can be eased with normal painkillers and should go away quickly after the procedure. 

  • When can I go home?

As this procedure is carried out over two stages you may need an overnight hospital stay.  As you will have had a general anaesthetic you should try to have someone with you when you go home.

You will experience some vaginal bleeding after this treatment.

Medically Induced Abortion

This treatment results in an abortion which is similar to having a late natural miscarriage.  The drug, Prostaglandin, used in earlier abortion methods such as the abortion pill and late medical abortion is used again in this method.  

  • How is the procedure carried out?

Prostaglandin is used but, unlike earlier methods where it is used in tablet form, this time it is injected into your womb.  This causes your womb to contract, a bit like it would if you were in labour at the end of a pregnancy.  These contractions can last between six and 12 hours.

You will be awake throughout this process but you can opt to take medicines to help you manage the pain.

After this treatment you will have a general anaesthetic so your womb can be completely emptied using the Surgical Dilation and Evacuation Method.

  • Will the procedure be painful?

As you will be taking a drug that causes strong labour type contractions you will experience pain with this treatment method.  The level of pain you will feel depends on you as everyone feels pain differently.  You will be offered medicines to help manage and control the pain.

  • When can I go home?

As this method can take up to 12 hours to complete then you will have a D&E you will normally need to stay overnight in hospital.


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