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"The best part of my experience was being welcomed as comfortably as possible under the circumstances. Knowing that I was treated without judgment made my anxiety less apparent."
—Aradia Client

Surgical Abortion

Making an Appointment
Please read our disclaimer


Aradia Women's Health Center is here to help you choose an abortion method that is right for you. Your health care advocate, a woman who counsels and accompanies you throughout your visit, will discuss your decision to have an abortion and the method best suited to your needs. You have the option of having a support person with you throughout your counseling and procedure.

You will sign consent forms to have the abortion and then your advocate will go over your aftercare instructions. If you are interested in birth control, your advocate can also discuss your options with you at this time.

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Medications for the Procedure

Every woman has the option to take medications during the procedure, as long as she has no medical contraindications.

We offer:

  • Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen – helps with the cramping.
  • Hydroxyzine – an oral anti-nausea medication with a side effect of being a muscle relaxant that will aid in relaxation and help to reduce anxiety. After taking Hydroxyzine, you may feel drowsy and you cannot drive for the remainder of the day.
  • Fentanyl – a strong narcotic and pain reliever, aids in relaxation and helps reduce anxiety. It is given as an injection in your vein and feels like a few alcoholic drinks on an empty stomach. This initial feeling goes away in two to three minutes as the medication goes into your muscles. You cannot drive for the remainder of the day.
  • Toradol – similar to Ibuprofen and works well at relieving cramping. It does not alter your mental perception, so it is a safe option for women who are driving themselves home.

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The Procedure

Once all the counseling is complete, your advocate will take your blood pressure, pulse and temperature. She will then draw blood from your finger to check your iron levels and the (+) or (-) of your blood type called your Rh factor.

A vaginal ultrasound will then be done to be sure your pregnancy is between six and 14 weeks, the range during which Aradia performs surgical abortions. (In Washington state it is legal to have a surgical abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy. Please visit Abortion Facts for more information.) The advocate will then discuss the procedure in detail with you. The most important thing for you to know is that you are in control. If anything is hurting or frightening you, please let us know. We want to make this as comfortable an experience for you as we can.

Next, the doctor and assistant will perform a pelvic exam: two gloved fingers are inserted into your vagina and a hand is placed on your abdomen to assess the size, shape and placement of your uterus. Following this exam a speculum is inserted into your vagina, giving the doctor a clear view of your cervix. If skin is pinched or hair caught, let the doctor know so s/he can adjust it for you. The doctor will then use an antiseptic soapy solution to wash your cervix to help prevent any naturally occurring bacteria from entering your sterile uterus. You may feel this as cold and wet. Next the physician will do a series (generally four or five) of injections in your cervix with a numbing medication. Most women do not feel these but, if you do, it feels like a pinch or poking sensation. Again, please let the physician know so s/he can adjust what s/he is doing to make this as comfortable as possible for you. This medication can cause side effects of ringing in the ears and tingling in your lips and fingers; this should go away in about 15 minutes.

Once your cervix is numb, the doctor will begin to gently stretch open your cervix with instruments called dilators. Most women say this feels like cramping. After your cervix is dilated, the doctor will begin the last part of the procedure: the aspiration. Depending on where you are in the pregnancy, a hand held silent device (for women less than 9 weeks) or a motorized machine (for women between 9 and 14 weeks) is used to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. It is very normal to experience strong menstrual-type cramping during this part of the procedure. This is the uterus returning to a non-pregnant size and controlling bleeding; it is a sign your uterus is strong and healthy. As the procedure is ending, the cramping may get more intense, which is again a good sign. If at any point the cramping is too intense, it is safe for us to stop and take a break.

As soon as the instruments are removed from the uterus, it should immediately begin to relax and the cramping should start to subside. Once the doctor believes all the pregnancy tissue has been removed, the doctor removes all the instruments and lets you relax as we check the tissue in the lab to be sure the procedure is complete. We will then move you into the aftercare room where you can relax in comfortable chairs with heating pads, juice and crackers as long as you like. Before you are discharged from the clinic your advocate will take your blood pressure and pulse one last time, and have you check your bleeding.

For women who are 12-14 weeks into the pregnancy:

If by ultrasound your pregnancy is between 12 and 14 weeks, the beginning of the procedure is slightly different. The doctor will do a pelvic exam and then insert a medication called Misoprostol into your vagina. Misoprostol is a small pill that helps to soften the cervix and begin uterine cramping. The Misoprostol remains in your vagina for about two to three hours. During this time it will be normal for you to experience cramping and bleeding. Some women report nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as well. You can leave the clinic for about 30 minutes after the medication is inserted to get a light bite to eat, but we would like you to do most of the waiting in the clinic (in case of severe bleeding and cramping). After the two to three hours has passed, you will be set up for the aspiration, which is the same process as described above for women less than 12 weeks pregnant; the only difference is your procedure will be done under ultrasound.

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