Vacuum Aspiration

Surgery Overview

In vacuum aspiration, a doctor uses gentle suction to remove the contents of the uterus. There are two methods of vacuum (or suction) aspiration.

  • Manual vacuum aspiration involves the use of a specially designed syringe to apply suction. A thin tube is passed into the uterus. Then a valve is released that creates suction to remove the tissue.
  • Electric vacuum aspiration involves the use of a thin tube that is attached to a pump. The tube is passed into the uterus. Then suction is used to remove the tissue.

What To Expect

Vacuum aspiration is a minor medical procedure. A normal recovery includes:

  • Irregular bleeding or spotting for the first 2 weeks. Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding. Using pads makes it easier to monitor your bleeding.
  • Cramps similar to menstrual cramps. They help to shrink the uterus back to its nonpregnant size. You may have cramping for up to a few weeks.

After the procedure:

  • If your doctor prescribed medicines, take them exactly as directed.
  • Rest as much as you can. You can do normal activities the next day, based on how you feel.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Do not take aspirin unless your doctor prescribed it. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have vaginal sex.

    You can get pregnant in the weeks after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about birth control options.

Why It Is Done

Vacuum aspiration can be done in the first trimester to end a pregnancy. It may also be done to empty the uterus after:

  • A failed or incomplete pill abortion.
  • Death of the embryo or fetus (miscarriage).

How Well It Works

Vacuum aspiration is a common type of in-clinic abortion. It is usually effective. In rare cases, the procedure doesn't end a pregnancy. This is more likely to happen during the earliest weeks of pregnancy.

Risks

Vacuum aspiration rarely causes any problems. Possible problems include:

  • Tissue remaining in the uterus.
  • Failure to end the pregnancy (when it's used for abortion).
  • Injury to the cervix.
  • A hole in the wall of the uterus (uterine perforation).
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding.
  • Infection.

Credits

Current as of: November 22, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Rebecca H. Allen MD, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine