No Sedation Surgical Abortion

Note: The Exhale Pro-Voice After-Abortion Stories Hub includes people’s stories of their experiences and emotions, exactly as they have written them in. We do not edit these stories at all, and the content that follows this message is exactly as we received it. We know that people’s experiences are complex, and these stories reflect the many emotions they may be feeling after their abortions. From relief to grief, and everything in between, and all at the same time, we’re here for you.

Anonymous Submission

I just returned from the doctor after undergoing a surgical abortion. I opted to not have sedation and I am really pleased with my choice. I found out I was pregnant very early and when I decided to terminate the pregnancy I went to a private clinic.

I was certain of my choice but still very anxious and I was told that I was too early in my pregnancy to have a surgical abortion (he could have done it but there was not enough fluid build up which could make it difficult to complete safely. I had to reschedule an appointment for 9 days later and this wait was by far, the most difficult part of this experience.

On the day of the appointment I had an internal sonogram (a plastic tube is placed in your vagina). This was not painful at all (only a little pressure). I then went to another room where the abortion was performed. There was a doctor and a nurse in the room and the nurse told me everything the doctor was doing. They first put a speculum in (just like a pap smear) and sprayed some disinfectant. They then injected some lidocaine. I felt two “pricks” but it was nothing horrible. It make me jump because even though they tell you its coming, it still shocks you a bit!

He then dilated the cervix using something that I assume was metal because I could hear metal but didn’t see it. I did feel some cramping but (on a scale of 1-10 I would say it was a 5). The nurse then explained that they were going to place the suction tube. Placing it in caused some cramps (maybe a 6) and when the tube/machine was turned on it was a “7”. I think that the vibration of the machine felt “funny” more than it really hurt.

Then it was done! In all it took 7 minutes. I put a pad in my underwear and drove myself home. It’s still soon after but I do not regret my choice and I do not anticipate doing so. I guess I will follow up if I do. Oh, the bleeding afterwards is (so far) not bad. I am about 3 hours after the procedure and have the same pad in my underwear. I feel a little bit on cramping (I have taken 800 mg of IBUprofen) but if I had not taken the day off of work I would not feel bad going back.

I am going to spend the rest of the day watching 4 Weddings on TLC which I feel more guilty about than choosing to have an abortion. I was about 8 weeks pregnant at the time of my abortion.

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47 responses to “No Sedation Surgical Abortion”

  1. jessica webb

    i am going to be very honest about my experience because i did read all of these comments before my procedure. i do not like being sedated, i like being in control. i had been indecisive about the sedation and i had read all of the feedback and i talked to the nurses at the clinic. I decided that i would be fine and i would not go through with the sedation. keep in mind that i was only 8 weeks at the time of the procedure. Although i say i don’t necessarily regret my decision, it was VERY painful. It was only 2 minutes long, but definently the worst 2 minutes of my life. They stuck some equipment in and i felt some cramping and pressure. About a minute later is when it got bad. I can definently say that the cramps were not the big problem. It was very uncomfortable. I got lightheaded, nauseous, and sweaty very quickly. Once the procedure was over, i collapsed on the floor because of the pain. My blood pressure dropped tremendously because i was about to pass out. This feeling probably lasted about 5-10 minutes and then i was alright. In conclusion, if you are comfortable being sedated, i HIGHLY recommend it. Please do not take this lightly and really explore your options. Even though the procedure is short, if you are aware of whats going on, you will remember the pain forever….i have never felt anything like it. I was reading all of these comments and the majority of women who did not use sedation said it was AWFUL (and i can confirm that it is not fun at all). I was not far along in my pregnancy and this was one of the most painful things i have endured.

  2. Erika

    I really wish I had gone with sedation- but I drove to the clinic on my own. I know everyone’s experience is different and I would never want this to dissuade anyone from making the choice that’s best for them- but that was absolutely the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life (and I have a high pain tolerance). It was the kind of pain that made me feel physically ill and I remember screaming that I wanted them to stop.

    Thankfully it’s over very quickly. And I 100% don’t regret my decision. I more so just want to warn that if you can and want to, bring someone along who can drive you home after sedation!

  3. Sydney

    Had surgical abortion 14 years ago without sedation. I didn’t want to be drugged the rest of the day. It was the most painful experience of my life. I think I almost passed out. DO NOT DO THIS WITHOUT SEDATION!! I don’t understand the women on here who claim this is pain free without sedation.. hurts way too much. Definitely take the meds

    1. Pixie

      I did this without sedation, without local anaesthetic and only with ibuprofen. I really would not recommend. Incredibly traumatic for me in my experience. It was about 6 years ago now. Not sure what made me look this up today. In truth I have blocked this experience out and really struggled to read that. I couldn’t even finish reading it. Stay strong women of the world xxx we all have our own way but definitely get the local if your wondering. No idea why I didn’t, it’s all such an emotional time isn’t it…

      1. Keely

        I had an abortion several years ago with no general or local anesthesia, just an oral Vicodin 15 min before, because that was the only clinic in town I could find to perform one at all.
        It was undoubtedly the most painful experience of my life, the only time I’ve ever literally screamed out in pain. The methods may have been different but I definitely remember the feeling of metal scraping out my insides. I can’t even describe it in metaphor – it feels like you’d imagine metal scraping out your insides would feel like.
        I’ve had 3 abortions aside from that one and they were all painless, stressless experiences with supportive professional teams (in a different state).
        About 15 years later I’m now almost full term with the first I plan to keep and I doubt childbirth will even be as painful or traumatic as that one procedure. Good luck, do research, and advocate for yourself.

      2. Sawyer

        I’m a trans man and I had to have one because of intense dysphoria. Pregnancy was traumatic and I was dissociated for most of the experience. I found out late, by the time I decided I just couldn’t do it I went to a place to end it. They checked me out and told me they couldn’t because it was apparently almost 15 weeks. I had to find a place that could. I did. I was also in college at the time and had English class that evening (already missed two classes that day). My partner couldn’t drive me back home or to school, so I couldn’t take anything. They allowed me to do this and the entire time leading up to the procedure was torture, going into the room with all previously stated factors in my mind was torture, the procedure with no medicine was the least torture. However, that is only because I was very dissociated. I know it was incredibly painful I resorted to counting those black spots on the ceilings. That day is one of the more traumatic days in my life. I would never do it that way again (including never getting pregnant in the first place). If I were to go back I would take some meds and not drive myself to school immediately after dropping off my partner at home after the procedure. Please do not put yourself into a traumatic situation like I did out of panic like I did. Please rest and please take the meds lol. I have absolutely no clue how this could not be a painful thing even without the emotions at play.

        1. It was hurtful mentally and bodily

          1. Genesis

            Hi how long did it take to recover after the procedure?

      3. Anonymous

        8 years after my surgical with no pain relief (this is England, what even is lidocaine… they gave me a 200mg paracetamol 10min before the procedure) I am now developing anxiety and what feels like panic attacks over the memories of it. I can’t go for a cervical smear because I’m dreading the feet in stirrups and the speculum being inserted. 10/10 would not recommend a surgical abortion without sedation or local anesthetic!!

    2. Nova

      Had my surgical abortion today with no sedation….i had a very bad case of hypermesis and couldn’t do it. 7 weeks and it was just too bad for me. The procedure is not for the weak, the most uncomfortable thing had to be the speculum. The dialation rods aren’t too bad but the pressure from the suction does hurt. I also have to mention the local anesthetic shots do hurt!! They say a pinch and burn but it’s a bit more. The cramps are that of 2nd day period’s very fast though. I did cry but I’m not sure if it was the pain or the reminder. Your legs will be numb but overall it was surviveable

  4. stephanie

    i had the surgery earlier today without meds, it was so terrible. i have a very high pain tolerance and even though it was very quick, it was extremely uncomfortable and so painful. would not recommend without medication.

    1. Melissa banks

      I had this procedure yesterday morning with sedation and felt no pain at all ! It felt like I blinked and it was all over. I’m glad I made this decision because other girls I saw in there were crying & some screaming. After I felt alil cramps & alil sleepy but nothing uncomfortable.

      1. Melissa

        Did you get the “twilight sedation”? I’m going this Saturday and I’m so scared I have bad anxiety and this is driving me crazy ?

      2. Neppy

        I had a surgical abortion about 5 years ago now. I had it without any pain killers, sedation nothing. I didn’t have anyone to drive me there and back as it was roughly an hour from where I lived and everyone seemed too busy. At first the clinic was going to turn me away but after asking some questions they allowed me to do it without the medicine. They said I was early enough where it wasn’t necessary (almost 8wks). The wait wasn’t bad though I was envious of the other women in the waiting room who could take the pills. I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t had a pelvic exam or pap smear before then. The speculum was shocking and a little trauma inducing by itself but i don’t think anything would have prepared me for the pain that came after. I was so light-headed, I almost passed out and quite frankly wished I had. The nurse was sweet trying to hold my hand and tell me how strong I was to do this on my own. I tried blocking the memory out but now that I’m considering getting an IUD, looking up experiences has me worried that I’ll be re-traumatized.

      3. Juliet

        Hi! I’m going to go through the same procedure and I’m deciding to be sedated also but I wanted to ask some questions from another female who already went through the experience so I can feel more comfortable and less anxious. I’m having anxiety thinking about it before I do it.

  5. Emily

    I went and did mine today. I had read the above stories so was abit anxious but as soon as I laid on the table and it started I thought it wouldn’t hurt as much, when she started putting the dilators it was just a pinch but once the vacuum started I could bare the pain , it went from a 6 to a 9. I was sweating, crying and shouting, my friend heard me from the waiting room. At some point I told the doctor to stop cz it was horribly painful. Please If you are thinking about doing it without anesthesia don’t do it ,its better to be sleeping and not feel anything

    1. Tee

      I agree. Had mine done today. It was terrible. The numbing shot caused my BP to drop and I could not breathe. On top of that there was so much pain. I never want to experience that ever again

      1. De

        Hi Stephanie

        I’m sorry for your experience. I too went through the same which was the worst pain of my life. My surgery was 5 days ago and I am still experiencing terrible pains and ibropofen doesn’t even tough the side. I was wondering what your experience was post surgery? Thanks D

      2. Abril Kingsbury

        did the shot makes your bp drop or the pain??

  6. Katie

    I just had a surgical abortion yesterday morning without sedation and I’m glad I did it that way

    The procedure only took about 5 minutes and I was a little scared being 13 weeks people told me it would hurt more being that far along, the doctor injected numbing medicine in my cervix and honestly it only felt like a tiny poke really didn’t hurt but when he had to dilate my cervix that’s when the cramps came at about a 6 and then the vacuum just still had me cramping a little and when it was done I would say my cramps where about a 4 and went to a 2 before I left the clinic with very little bleeding.

    It’s not worth feeling sick and groggy all day under sedation for only 5 min of Bearable pain. Don’t be scared and it’s normal to have so many emotions, I feel guilt and sadness but it’s a choice I had to do in my situation.

    1. Dkg

      I do not regret my decision (surgical Abortion without sedation , using a numbing agent injection/ 2 ibuprofen 800 -at ten 1/2 weeks). But for me it was extremely painful. I was crying out in pain (as well as actual crying because of said pain). At one point I wanted to beg the doctor to please stop. Thank god for the nurse who let me crush her hand and helped me by talking me through it. Pain started at a four and increased to a nine and me nearly shouting “why tf do they only give ibuprofen (800)”. It only lasted 5-10 minutes but the last half (?) was horrific. Mind you I have a very low pain tolerance- I haven’t as much as broken a bone before. Afterward my uterus felt “relieved” and I experienced no immediate pain. Again I do not regret what had to be done and emotionally I am alright. I just suggest that if you have a low pain tolerance- go for the IV anesthesia.

      1. Ella 1984

        I had the procedure 3 days ago. I wasn’t given any injections before the metal rods or suction machine was inserted. I was offered gas and air but that’s all. It was so painful. I’m glad its all over.

        1. Maya hoffman

          I agree 100% just had the procedure done it is painful. But everyone is different and everyone has different pain tolerances. However you can get through it.

    2. Victoria

      I had this procedure done 15 years ago and wasn’t given any numbing medication for the cervix being opened up, and as a result found it to be excruciatingly painful. The suction made it more so, and I’d liken the pain to actual labour pain contractions.

      I got the train from Leeds back home to Glasfow afterwards and the cramps on the train were horrendous.

      I’d say it took about 6 hours for mine to settle down to that akin to period cramps.

      So this procedure isn’t as pain free for everyone. Seems barbaric looking back that I wasn’t given a local anaesthetic to my uterus.

      Had mine at a Marie Stopes clinic.

      1. Sarah

        I had the exact same procedure, roughly the same time 15year ago.

        No pain relief at all and at the same clinic (Marie Stopes). They heard my screams in the waiting room begging them to stop.

        This experience put me off having any future abortions and was far from the experience I’d had 4 years before at a different clinic.

        I ended up rushed into hospital twice over the next week as they had irritated my lining (one point the hospital thought they’d perforated me) and in addition they hadn’t even gotten everything.

        I was on anti-biotics for infection. It was the worse experience of my life.

    3. Jessica

      Thank you for sharing this. It’s really helping me.

  7. Katie

    I have had two abortion in the past surgical and I got the meds both times it hurt but was bearable I cried but it was over quick and wasn’t in pain afterwards. Today I had my third abortion and I opted out of haveing pain meds thinking I didn’t wanna feel sleepy all day like before. It was by far the worst pain I’ve ever imagined. The shots in the cervix were an ouch hurt but not bad they even used a handled one because I was so early and it was the worst pain I instantly got hot and sweaty had to take my shirt off they held my legs in the air to get blood flow back to my head they put ice pack behind my neck cold rag on my head I told them I was ready for the suction and it was the worst pain it felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife I was screaming to stop they had to stop three times. I went into this thinking it wouldn’t be bad I’ve done this twice before sadly. It wasn’t an easy desision but the best for me at this time. I was 20 when I did the first one 22 the second and am now 25. I was so co forest going in that I could do it with out pain or crying. The pain was so I tense I couldn’t even cry I was screaming my friend heard me from the waiting room. I have been home took a Xanax and tylonal and in profin and am still in pain in my butt vagina legs and back. Bleeding is very minimal. They left me in the room for ten minutes before I could even stand up to get to the recovery room. It was the worst pain I don’t mean to scare but I am telling you do not do this without meds. The nurses and dr was so nice to me one held my hand they were telling me it’s ok I as doing great but I was literally screaming it was worse than any pain ever and I am a tough girl.

    1. Alison

      Thanks a lot for this sis , this helped me to make my decision to get conscious sedation for tomorrow ! . Wow

    2. Genesis

      I went through the same recently and I’m wondering how long did it take for the pain in the butt back and legs to go away? I feel the same way rn

  8. Grace

    I am 21 weeks and am going to do an abortion Tuesday i have to be sedated put to sleep they said i am battiling with heroin addiction will this affect my procedure? I will be 2days clean before surgery.. Please help someone im scared.
    And termination was recommend by my doctor because of what the baby got diagnosed with.

    1. Ade

      Just did mine without sedation too. It was the best choice and not painful at all. More discomfort than pain. Just a little cramping that went away quickly after as they gave me a heat pad and pain killers.

  9. Anonymous

    I just had mine done almost three hours ago. I chose not to be sedated. They gave me an ibuprofen and and antibiotic. Personally, the procedure did hurt me. The worst part was the needle the doctor put in my cervix before they started the suction process. When that happened it got hot in the room, my hands started to tingle, i started sweating and the nurse said my heart rate dropped. After that they quickly finished up and got me and ice pack. It honestly broke my heart looking over and seeing the jar of red liquid and tissue. Im happy I made the choice for myself. Ik it’s whats best for my situation in life. Atm I don’t regret anything. And my stress is gone.

  10. Womanwithoptions

    Thank you for sharing/ you are very brave! It’s so important women know their options.

  11. Ash

    I am going to have this procedure done with no medication as well… is it for sure bearable? Are there any chance of serious complications?

    1. Michelle

      Yes, it’s bearable. I just had mine one hour ago. Just a little cramping is all I felt.

    2. Katie

      Oh my god please do not do this with no medication I have had two abortions with sedation meds and it was a little painful I thought I could do no meds this time I was screaming I almost passed out I got hot sweaty and bawled so long after I went in there thinking I could do it without meds and was mentally ready and I have NEVER been I. That much pain before I’ve given birth naturally and have had two other abortions. It was horrendous without meds please don’t

      1. Angel

        I had the exact same experience. I had a surgical abortion today, with mild sedation, 10mg of valium and an ibuprofen. This was not enough, it was the most painful experience of my entire life. Near the end I was screaming for them to stop, literally screaming in pain, I was in so much pain its indescribable. Thankfully the procedure went by quick, but it’s a pain I will never forget. I was sweating and felt like I was going to pass out/vomit/and poop myself at the same time.

        I would absolutely never do this without sedation, not worth the traumatic experience. I’ve had one other 10 years ago with sedation and it was far less painful, just mild discomfort and a harsh cramp or two that subsided fairly quickly.

      2. Gal

        Listen to her, I was screaming ! I didn’t think it would be bad, the needle was the easy part, everything after that I thought I was gonna pass out it hurt so bad. I swear there should be no option for “no sedation” (joking). I’ve never had a kid, I asked the nurse if that was what labor felt like, she said no babe 10x’s worst. I’m still swearing I’m having no kids , I have never felt something so painful in my life. It’s up to you go for it, I’m a tough cookie , I said just kill me. After words though, I was back to normal sitting there looking all happy and innocent. Honestly I was just glad the pain was gone, I was sweating and panting like a crazy person, they looked scared I thought I was gonna faint, I wish I would’ve fainted so I wouldn’t feel anything, idk if they would’ve continued though lol. Good luck you got this lady’s. I’m on birth control now.

        1. Jennifer

          I have my appointment in a few hours and I’m currently freaking out.. Because of the new abortion law I had to travel from Atlanta to Maryland just to get this done. I’m only doing local anesthesia and I’m nervous but hopefully it won’t be to bad. .

  12. Hello, this post helped me a lot. I decided to share my experience to give other women a sense of peace as well. On a scale of 1-10 the procedure was only a 4. It was so fast and the pain was not bad at all. The emotional part however, and hearing the suction, hurt my heart.

    1. Ang

      Did you use sedation?

      1. I had my procedure today 1/21/2020 without sedation and I can honestly saw it wasn’t as bad as I thought it’s definitely some pressure the most uncomfortable part was the needle being placed in my cervix but was tolerable. The cramping was bearable I literally left and Ran errands and continued my normal off day routine

    2. Chelsea

      Did you have sedation or any medication?

  13. Rose

    Do u know anywhere to go in Ohio or around Ohio im doing it by myself have no support and need help. …

    1. Anne

      Hi Rose! I googled abortion clinics in Ohio, and there seems to be many Planned Parenthood clinics there.

      1. I had my first abortion about 9 months ago & sadly I’m having second one tomorrow the first one I decided not to be sedated because I hate that feeling the pain wasn’t that bad for me & the whole process was like 5 min it was pretty scary tho I’m not going to get sedated tomorrow either but I’m having some anxiety right now it’s like even tho I know what I’m walking into I’m still terrified 🙁

    2. Haley

      So yesterday i got the surgical abortion done in i think the best womens care center in the state im in RRWC I loved them… The overall experience was difficult but the staff there makes everything so much easier they explain and answer questions very professional and understanding.. The procedure itself from a scale of pain 1-10 i say a 9 when its happening but the good thing it doesn’t last more than 5 min its fast theres a nurse there assisting your needs all the time offering comfort to something so delicate aftermath its better not alot of pain just mild cramping pain scale 1-10 i say a 4 its bearable nd they will give pain meds as well…goodluck and god bless

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