Procedural Abortion – Awake (Through 12 Weeks)

Having a procedural abortion is a SAFE & EFFECTIVE option for ending a pregnancy.

A procedural abortion, also known as aspiration abortion, is usually administered by a method called vacuum aspiration. The procedure itself usually takes only five to ten minutes, and is a common in-office gynecology service.

While the procedure itself last only minutes, additional time is needed for registration, paperwork, lab services and recovery. Please plan to be in our office for 3-4 hours for your abortion care appointment. (If your last menstrual period was more than 12 weeks ago, please plan to be in our office for up to 5 hours.)

You will have an opportunity to meet with your patient educator to discuss the procedure and your feelings and concerns at your appointment. Our staff is here to support and help both patients and those who are with you in this experience.

What to Expect

You will be assigned a patient educator who serves as your advocate to assist you with paperwork, review your appointment and answer your questions.  At your appointment your sonogram will be obtained and medical history reviewed, lab work is performed and pre-medications given before you are readied for the procedure. These are important opportunities for you to meet your medical team and to relax.

The abortion procedure will be performed by one of our Board Certified Clinicians. The procedure itself takes only a few minutes and typically is not performed until the embryo is visualized by sonogram, usually after 5-6 weeks gestation.

  • Cervical preparation takes place prior to the procedure through administration of misoprostol which softens the cervix
  • Local anesthesia is administered
  • Sterile medical instruments, a dilator and cannula, are gently inserted through the vaginal cavity, into the cervix opening and into the uterus.
  • The cannula is connected to a device that will provide the gentle suction needed to safely remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. This may make a slight, annoying sound.
  • Following the procedure, we allow ample recovery time in our patient’s lounge. You will be discharged with written and oral instructions on how to take care of yourself and what to do if you have a problem.
Since you are NOT having I.V. Sedation, you will be AWAKE  so you can:
  • Take Tylenol (1000mg) or Ibuprofen (800mg) 30 minutes prior to your appointment time.
  • Drive yourself home.

BEFORE your abortion procedure

  • Avoid sexual intercourse the day before the procedure
  • Avoid douches 48 hours before the procedure
  • Avoid vaginal creams or medications 1 week before the procedure
  • Please do not wear fingernail polish

AFTER your abortion procedure

  • Harmless vaginal bleeding and some discomfort is possible immediately after the procedure.
  • Some women may need to use a pad for a few days after the procedure.
  • Comply with the clinician’s instructions for follow-up visits and any needed re-tests.
  • You will be given aftercare instructions that includes no sexual activity for at least 1 week.

After two (2) weeks you will complete your follow-up wellness report: either online, by phone or in person. After four (4) weeks you will take a urine hCG hormone test which will be provided to you.

We encourage and will assist you in exploring various family planning / birth control options.

Additional Information about Procedural Abortion using Vacuum Aspiration

How does surgical abortion work?

Please see below for Procedural Abortion aftercare instructions.

Your Care at Home

Procedural Abortion

You can also download a PDF of this form locally here.

What can I expect at home?

  • BLEEDING: You can experience bleeding that lasts for 5-7 days, then experience spotting that lasts for an additional week or more. The amount of bleeding will vary for each person. For some patients, the bleeding stops and starts for a few days at a time. Others may not have bleeding at all. It is normal to pass clots while bleeding. Spotting could persist until your next menstrual cycle.
  • CRAMPS: Many patients experience cramping similar to their menstrual cycle cramps or stronger. As needed, you may take over the counter medications containing ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to help with discomfort. Take these medications according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • CHANGE IN HORMONES: Pregnancy hormones gradually decrease and pregnancy symptoms will subside within 10-14 days, but a Urine hCG hormone test continues to read positive for 4 to 6 weeks.

What do I need to avoid?

• Pads should be used after your procedure to monitor bleeding. FCHC suggests you avoid tampons or menstrual cycle cups until bleeding has slowed down and you are only spotting.

• Do not use vaginal medications or suppositories unless you have checked with your physician. Do not douche.

• If you had IV sedation, avoid driving for 24 hours.

• FCHC suggests refraining from sexual activity for the next 7 days.
What should I do to recover quickly and easily?

• Return to your normal activities as soon as you can. You do not need bed rest. You may shower and take baths.

• Enjoy fresh air and exercise. Regular walks and light exercise can help decrease cramping.

• Treat cramping with Ibuprofen. A cold pack or heating pad on the abdomen or lower back is helpful. You can also massage your
abdomen to relieve discomfort.

• Strenuous activity (heavy lifting, exercise) may increase bleeding. This is normal.
Additional Important Information:

• You can expect a period in 4-8 weeks after your abortion.

• Your first period will be heavier and longer, will include small clots with heavier cramping than usual. This is normal.

• Contraception information can be found here:  Pregnancy can occur before your next period.

• Urine pregnancy hCG hormone tests will be positive up to 4-6 weeks.  Call if concerned.

• Discounted fees are available for continuing GYN services

• Persistent fever – 100.4 or higher for 3 hours or more

• Severe persistent cramping or pain not helped by medication

• Very heavy bleeding: SOAKING 1 maxi pads every hour and or passing 4 or more large clots walnut size or larger for 2 hours or more. 

• Persistent vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours

• Persistent pregnancy symptoms after 2 weeks
• If you do not have a period by 8 weeks.


  • Online: go to   or,
  • call us to complete your Wellness Report at 703 532-2500  or,
  • Falls Church Healthcare Center also offers in person follow-up appointments.  Call to make an appointment