Abortion With Sedation or Local Anesthesia?
- Two different types of anesthesia can be used for surgical abortions: intravenous sedation or local anesthesia.
- Your physician may recommend which type to use on a case-by-case basis.
- The choice between local anesthetic and sedation is usually left up to the woman.
- There are pros and cons for each kind of anesthesia.
This article provides you with information on anesthesia during an abortion.
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Abortion Under Sedation
Varying degrees of sedation can be used during an abortion. While general anesthesia (deep sedation) is still the norm in some countries, waking sedation is the preferred choice in most clinics.
- Conscious (Waking) Sedation
IV sedation, also known as twilight sleep, is used to reduce anxiety and pain. You will be sedated, but responsive; awake, but not as aware of what is going on around you. Breathing is unassisted.
- Deep Sedation
General Anesthesia causes you to fall asleep within seconds of receiving the medication. You will be completely unaware of your surrounding for a specific length of time, depending on the dose. You will not feel any pain and breathing is assisted.
Before the abortion, your doctor or anesthesiologist will discuss the procedure with you in detail, as
well as inform you of any risks and side effects. Informed consent papers will be signed at this point.
Whenever undergoing a surgical procedure under sedation (including an abortion), you will need to
be accompanied, since you will not be permitted to drive for the remainder of the day. You may also feel shaky and should rest as
much as possible.
How Long Does an Abortion Under Sedation Take?
Right before the procedure, a sedative and anesthetic are injected intravenously. Terminating a pregnancy via vacuum aspiration takes about 15 minutes. Therefore, the anesthesia doesn't have to be very strong.
When the procedure is complete, the anesthesiologist will rouse you. At this point, you may feel mild to moderate pain, which usually lasts for up to half an hour. At first, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded.
After the procedure, you will remain in a recovery room for at least half an hour. When you feel reasonably stable, you will be released to go home.
Abortion Under Local Anesthetic
In contrast to general anesthesia, you are fully conscious under local anesthesia, and also more aware than under concious sedation. Only the sensation of cervical pain is suppressed
Before using local anesthetics, your doctor will discuss all necessary medical information with you.
Procedure of Abortion With Local Anesthesia
- Immediately before the procedure, an analgesic is injected through the vagina and into the cervix, i.e., the opening of the uterus. Within two to six pricks, the cervix is numbed, resulting in (almost) no pain associated with the necessary dilation of the cervix.
- Next, the surgical abortion is performed.
- The anesthetic gradually wears off after the procedure.
Sedation vs. Local Anesthesia Abortion
Every woman is unique and reacts differently to general anesthesia and abortion. Here are several possible scenarios:
Women's responses to an abortion under sedation vary greatly.
Being sedated during the procedure is often considered an advantage, since one is unaware, or less aware, of what is happening. This can be a relief.
Other women experience this sedation as confusing, since, upon awaking, the pregnancy is suddenly over. Some women
struggle while trying to process this moment. Another disadvantage of sedation
is that it often leaves you feeling very dizzy and light-headed for several hours.
- Unconscious, or less aware, during the procedure
- Confusion when everything is suddenly over
- Dizziness after the sedation
- Sedation raises the cost of an abortion (by at least US $40)
Local Anesthetic Abortion
Women’s experiences of abortion without sedation vary.
Some women prefer to be completely aware of the procedure in order to consciously experience the abortion. This makes it easier for them to process the experience. Other women find it hard to be fully conscious, aware of all conversations and sounds.
A disadvantage of local anesthesia is that it does not necessarily completely suppress all pain. This means that some
women still feel slight to moderate pain when the cervix is dilated. Since the rest of the uterus is not numbed, many women also experience pain during the aspiration and the
subsequent contraction of the uterus. Fortunately, the pain usually subsides quite rapidly.
- Being fully aware helps some women better process the experience
- Local anesthesia costs less than sedation
- Sensation of pain is not necessarily completely suppressed
- For many women: emotional burden of the experience
Abortion With or Without Sedation?
You probably came across this article because you are considering an abortion and you are
wondering how you can get through this step, both physically and emotionally. Deciding on the type of anesthesia for an abortion, as well as the abortion method itself, takes careful consideration.
You are the only one who can make that call. Your peace about your decision will strongly depend upon your degree of freedom to decide
according to your desires.
It can still be helpful to discuss all your questions with others — whether you just found out you are
pregnant or even if the appointment for an abortion has already been made.
You do not have to walk this road alone - allow us to walk alongside you! We would like to provide
you with a judgement-free setting so you can find the path that is just right for you:
- ⚖️ Wondering whether to have an abortion or not? Take the Abortion Test
- ⛑ Wondering where to go from here? Take the First Aid Test
- 💡 Concerned about a specific issue? Take the Solutions Finder Test
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