Surgical Abortion Experience: Just the Facts

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Submitted by: J

If you’re reading this and you’re freaking out about the pain (like I was), and the procedure in general, I’m here to tell you: you can do this.

Before my abortion, I read everything I could find online about the procedure. I have an extremely low pain tolerance, so I was mostly worried about the pain. I’m gonna do my best to simply walk through my experience, because that’s what I really wanted to know prior to my own.

I had a surgical abortion through Carafem, and I seriously cannot speak highly enough about them. Everyone there made it the absolute best experience I could have hoped for in this situation. If you’re considering using them, I can’t recommend them enough. Even if it’s a far drive for you, trust me, it’s worth it.

You have to buzz in to the actual place, it’s very confidential. I brought my boyfriend with me, and we waited an extra 30 minutes past my appointment time, but they have a small staff, so I wasn’t that upset.

When the called me back, they took my medical history without my boyfriend. (They asked if I was being forced to do it, if I felt safe, etc etc). After that, he was able to stay with me for the rest of my visit.

They tested my blood type (apparently if your blood type is negative, you need some kind of extra medication? Idk the details) and gave me an antibiotic to prevent infection from the procedure. I also gave a urine sample so they could confirm I was pregnant. This all took ~15 minutes.

I was sent to a second room, with my boyfriend, for the ultrasound. I had to undress from the waist down, no robe necessary. A midwife just gave me a sheet to cover myself up with. The ultrasound didn’t hurt at all. 0/10 on the pain scale. She inserted the camera into my cervix and moved it around a little to get pictures. She turned the sound off on the monitor and asked me if I wanted to see anything. I didn’t. (I did mistakenly look at the monitor later and saw pictures. I wish I hadn’t.)

After this, my boyfriend and I left the room while they brought in the equipment for the actual abortion. (We didn’t have to leave. I drank too much water prior to my appointment, so I just really had to pee. And my boyfriend went to pay.) When we walked back in, they had put new paper on the exam chair and wheeled in a tray with the tools and stuff.

The midwife turned my boyfriend’s chair to face the wall, so he wouldn’t see anything. He was able to sit next to me and hold my hand. I really appreciated that.

I was awake the whole time. The procedure lasts less than 10 minutes, so there’s really no need for any sedation. The only pain prevention they gave was the numbing stuff in my cervix. I’ll get to that in a second.

A male doctor and the female midwife were there for the procedure. I think the midwife usually comforts people, but my boyfriend was holding my hand the whole time, so she stood with the doctor. They were a really amazing team. She told me everything that was happening, when I’d feel a pinch/cramping, and reminded me to breathe. The male doctor did the actual procedure, and he also tried (successfully) to distract me by talking about random things. It was a perfect balance of distraction while being informed of what was happening.

Alright, here we go. For the procedure, I was laying down with a sheet to cover my legs so I couldn’t see what was happening. The doctor felt around for like a second to gauge the shape of my cervix to see exactly where the pregnancy was (or something like that, idk) and I didn’t think he was gentle at all. It didn’t hurt, but it was super uncomfortable (3/10 on the pain scale). Then he inserted the speculum and (I assume) started numbing me. This part felt like sharp pinches in different places. It was like a 7/10 – this was where the midwife had to remind me to breathe through the pain. Next, the actual abortion started. It’s not a suction vacuum like I originally pictured in my head. I didn’t see it, but I watched a YouTube video a few days ago, and it kind of looks like a turkey baster thing that sucks. Anyway, a tiny tube gets inserted and attached to the turkey baster thing and there’s clicking sounds. At one point it made a loud sound kinda like a straw sucking the last of a milkshake, but that was at the very end. The suction part was the most painful. It seriously feels like bad period cramps. (8.5-9/10) And I also felt like I was gonna poop on the table. (I asked about that after, and the midwife said it was normal). I just focused on my breathing, answered the doctor’s random questions, and squeezed the shit out of my boyfriend’s hand.

And then… the doctor said, “Alright, that’s it.” It felt like less than 5 minutes. So short. He removed the tube thing and the speculum, and quickly and efficiently wrapped up everything and left the room to dispose of… whatever. The midwife checked for any unusual bleeding, wiped me up, gave me words of encouragement, and helped me stand up. At this point I was extremely hot and a little sweaty and lightheaded from the pain, but it had gone down to a 7/10. She asked me if I was well enough to dress myself (I was). Then she gave me a pad and left me (and my boyfriend) to it. I stood up and got dressed. There was blood on the exam table that kind of freaked me out, but it wasn’t a big deal.

Then came the spa treatment. The midwife brought me to a room with a couch, heating pad, and snack table. I sat down and she told me to stay as long as I needed. She gave me two extra strength Tylenol to take. I told her I was sweaty and hot (and still crampy and in pain), and she freaking brought me a fan and two cold packs to put behind my neck and on my chest. This honestly cooled me down instantly and brought my pain down to a 1/10. It was amazing.

I rested for like 10 minutes, then a new lady asked me to go check my pad in the bathroom. I was barely bleeding and felt way better, so I reported that. She went over aftercare, what to look for for infection, etc etc., and gave me a bag of goodies. They gave me condoms, a heating pack, information about post-abortion care, and a few other things including A TEA BAG. So extra. It also had prescription ibuprofen to take for the next few days.

That was it. I was there from 2:50pm – 4:30pm (but I didn’t get called back till 3:40ish), so the whole thing lasted like an hour. My boyfriend drove me home and I cried the entire ride. We were both extremely overwhelmed and relieved.

I’m posting this ~30 hours after my abortion, and I feel totally normal. The only issue I’ve had was when I skipped a dose of my pain meds and started feeling crampy with back pain. But then I took the meds and now I’m fine again. 0/10 pain with a tiny bit of spotting here and there. ALSO – I had the WORST morning sickness for the week leading up to this (I was unbearably nauseous literally all day long for days), but I woke up today with 0 feelings of nausea. It’s a miracle.

The whole experience is emotionally and physically draining, but it was so doable. If you’re nervous and freaking out like I was, I’m telling you: you can do this. It is 100% doable and you will get through it.

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8 responses to “Surgical Abortion Experience: Just the Facts”

  1. Penny

    I just had one with sedation & I personally recommend being sedated as you don’t even remember the actual procedure itself, just the cramps that start to follow after. I thought I’d be depressed after this experience but I truly don’t feel any regret and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision. I hope and wish everyone peace that is going through or has gone through this.

  2. Abby

    Thank you for this, i have an appointment tomorrow and i’m so nervous.

  3. Indie

    Thank you so much for this!’ I had the procedure less then a week ago and I was reading ever artical also. You explained it perfectly!

  4. Sam

    Thank you. I just left my appointment and it was a relief reading this. Thank you so much for putting this out here.

    1. Faith

      I had a the surgical procedure about 2 weeks ago now. It makes me feel so much less alone reading your story and every comment with all of our experiences. For me, i found out at 5weeks 5days (im in tx), I had 24 hours. South western women’s center in Dallas was amazing and I will always recommend them. Also, the NAF is an incredible resource financially. Honestly, it was very painful, I should’ve been sedated lmao. But it only lasted 6 minutes and I’m okay. I also don’t regret it. Im proud of all of us. I’ll keep fighting for our rights in Texas. Be well, friends <3

  5. Rocky

    Thanks i really needed this have an appointment for the procedure tomorrow God be with me.

    1. Lacey S

      Hi all! As someone with an insane amount of anxiety issues, just finding out I was pregnant before I’m ready nearly put me in the grave. So you can imagine me going for an abortion was a whole ordeal. I truly don’t think anyone could’ve been more nervous than I was. So ask all the questions you need to!!! And the biggest thing I’ve realized throughout this is that more people than you realize have been through this. I have told complete strangers and they took time out of their days to sit and empathize with me & share their personal experiences.

      Everything in this article is spot on! I just had my abortion 2 days ago. The only difference for me is it was entirely painless throughout & afterwards. I felt ONE cramp during the very end of the procedure but it was 20 seconds long. So keep in mind everyone is different and my biggest piece of advice I got from a nurse in there. BREATHE. Each cramp will pass by the time you’ve taken a big deep breath, and it will be over before you know it. And all I felt was relief. And like the article, the nausea was gone instantly. I could f***in eat again. Lol.

      Good luck to all, you got this!!! Easy healing <3

  6. JC

    I needed this. I just had one done. And it’s so not easy

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