What is a surgical abortion?
A surgical abortion is a safe and straightforward day-surgery procedure commonly performed in the first trimester (up to 12–14 weeks’ gestation). Second-trimester termination of pregnancy, also known as late-term abortion, may be performed up to 20-22 weeks’ gestation, depending on your location.
Surgical abortion in the first trimester is a low-risk procedure with a high success rate of greater than 98%. The expert doctors at MSI Australia use gentle suction to remove the pregnancy from the uterus. The procedure takes between 5 and 15 minutes and is performed under intravenous sedation. Local anaesthetic can be used if preferred.
When you book, you will also be given the option of having a long-acting reversible method of contraception fitted post-procedure. Combining procedures can be convenient and cost-effective.
For more information about what’s involved in a surgical abortion, you may wish to read our surgical abortion FAQs below.
It can be hard to know how to support someone who has had an abortion – this guide can help those who wish to learn more about providing timely and empathetic emotional support.
If you are over 16 weeks’ gestation, you will need an ultrasound and blood test done before your appointment. We can provide you with the pathology request forms for you.
To enquire further or to make an appointment, please contact us.
Enquire online or call 1300 003 707 to make a surgical abortion appointment at a clinic near you
Surgical abortion cost
Surgical abortion costs are based on the minimum price for patients holding a valid Medicare card. Further discounts apply for Healthcare Cardholders in many cases. Visit the prices page to understand the factors that influence cost, or contact us to get an exact price based on your circumstances, such as gestation and anaesthetic preference.
Private health rebates
If you do not hold a valid Medicare card, please contact us for a cost estimate, or speak to your private health insurance provider if you have private health insurance, as rebates may still apply. Check our locations page to determine which clinics are eligible for private health rebates. Rebates only apply for surgical abortion (IV sedation at select clinics).
The cost of insertion is free. BYO contraception device or purchase one in the clinic.
Surgical abortion procedure
You must follow these essential fasting guidelines before your surgical abortion procedure. If you don’t, we will need to cancel or reschedule your appointment.
- If you are having IV sedation, it is vital that you do not eat anything (including lollies or gum) for 6 hours before your appointment
- You may continue to drink a small glass of water each hour up to 2 hours before your appointment, but no other fluid
- You should also take any regular medications (except blood thinners) with a small amount of water
- If you have a local anaesthetic, you may have a light breakfast
When you book your appointment, MSI Australia will provide you with an information pack by email. This features important information about your procedure. Please ensure that you read it carefully.
You must inform us when making your appointment if you have diabetes.
If you are having IV sedation, you must not drive a motor vehicle for 24 hours following your appointment, and you must have someone to accompany you home. You cannot travel home alone by taxi.
In addition to the above preparations, we suggest that you have a bath or shower before you leave home.
If your arrival is delayed, please call in advance to let us know—call 1300 003 707 to speak to our friendly staff about surgical abortion or enquire online.
On the day of your procedure, you must bring the following to the clinic:
- Photo identification must be presented. However, if you are under 18-years-old and don’t have photo identification, you must bring your Birth Certificate instead
- Medicare card. If you don’t have one, you will pay a higher fee. Call Medicare on 13 20 11 beforehand to see if you are eligible for a card
- Private health insurance card as you may be able to make a claim
- Concession, Healthcare or Pension card if you have one
- Any notes, reports or ultrasound scans given to you by your doctor. In WA, you also need a doctor’s letter/referral stating that you have discussed your decision to have an abortion
- Any medication you are currently taking, including inhalers
- Extra underwear
- Cash, EFTPOS or credit card for payment on the day. Visa, MasterCard or AMEX accepted.
Optional items to bring:
- Comfortable two-piece clothing such as a short-sleeved top and a skirt or loose-fitting pants
- Books, magazines or a digital device to read while you are waiting
Please don’t bring:
- Valuables, including jewellery
- Children or babies.
Call 1300 003 707 to speak to our friendly staff about your surgical abortion procedure or enquire online.
Following the surgical abortion procedure, you will spend some time in a reclining chair or bed, as long as you need to recover. You will feel slightly drowsy depending on the type of anaesthetic you choose to have for the procedure. The nurse will check your post-procedure, and you will not need to see the doctor unless experiencing any unusual pain or discomfort.
Following any surgical abortion procedure, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home. You must arrange this before the procedure commences, as we cannot proceed without the name and number of your support person designated to pick you up. As we have a duty of care, we cannot allow you to travel home alone by taxi.
Once you have left the clinic, you may experience some period pain-like symptoms, which are best treated with over-the-counter painkillers. The most common side effects you may experience after the procedure are abdominal pain/cramps, bleeding, “morning” sickness and breast tenderness.
If you have concerns or questions about what is normal, please call our 24/7 aftercare service at any time on 1300 003 707.
Surgical abortion: What to expect
What is surgical abortion?
Surgical abortion is a safe and simple day-surgery procedure that may be used to terminate a pregnancy at various stages of gestation, depending on your state’s laws.
There are slightly different procedures involved in a surgical abortion at different gestations. Manual vacuum aspiration is our preferred procedure, utilised up to 9-10 weeks, with suction curettage beyond this.
How long will the abortion procedure take?
You may leave as soon as you feel well enough and have been discharged, but you will need someone to accompany you home.
An approximate timeframe in the centre is around 4 hours, as it is a day surgery procedure, which includes check-in, waiting time, consultation time with the nurse/doctor, procedure and recovery time.
Surgical abortions where the gestation is above 12 weeks will require a longer stay in the centre as you may require medication to help open the cervix before your procedure. From 16 weeks onwards, you may require two consecutive appointments to complete the procedure. The duration of a second-trimester termination will depend on gestation, previous obstetric history and the type of procedure advised by the doctor on the day.
Who will perform my abortion/pregnancy termination?
Our doctors and nurses are specialists trained in termination of pregnancy procedures, often working at MSI Australia after years of experience working in their own women’s health-focused practices and family planning organisations.
Is a surgical abortion dangerous? Are there risks involved in a surgical abortion?
Like all surgical procedures, there are some risks associated with surgical abortion. Whilst it is rare to have serious complications, risks include damage to the womb or cervix, uterine perforation (accidental puncturing of the uterus by an instrument used in the procedure), infection, retained pregnancy tissue or clot, and continued or ectopic pregnancy.
Generally, early abortion (less than 12 weeks) is one of the safest and most common procedures carried out in hospitals and clinics worldwide. In addition, there is no medical evidence to suggest that surgical abortion with no complications impacts future fertility or any other aspect of general health.
Your consulting doctor will discuss these risks with you on the day and gain your consent to proceed. For more information about the risks involved, you may wish to read an article comparing the risks and benefits of medical and surgical abortions.
You should contact our centre if you have any of these warning signs:
- Excessive bleeding, that is, soaking through a super pad every half hour for 2 hours
- Bleeding much heavier than your normal period, lasting for more than 2 days
- Constant pain or cramps continuing for more than 2 days
- Abdominal pain or tenderness that changes in nature, especially towards one side of your abdomen
- Persistent blood clotting
- Smelly vaginal discharge
- Raised temperature or flu-like feeling
- Sickness or breast soreness that has continued for more than 1 week
- Absence of a normal period 4 to 6 weeks following the procedure (except in second-trimester abortion).
You can read more about the risks involved by reading the article Understanding your options: surgical abortion vs medical abortion.
Does a surgical abortion hurt?
If you choose to have the procedure under IV sedation, you are unlikely to experience or recall any pain during the procedure, although you may experience some period-like cramping afterwards. However, if you choose to have the procedure under local anaesthetic, you may still experience cramping during the procedure that may range from mild to strong.
Is there a chance that the surgical abortion could fail or be incomplete?
There is a small chance, up to 2%, that the surgical abortion will be incomplete, and a follow-up procedure is required. However, continued pregnancy is uncommon (1 in 500) and is more likely in terminations performed under 6 weeks.
When can I start having sex again? When can I start taking baths, going swimming or playing sports?
Do not have intercourse or insert anything in your vagina for one week as your cervix is open, which may increase the risk of infection.
You can shower as soon as you wish, but we advise you not to have baths or go swimming for 1 week after the procedure. Avoid strenuous activity for at least one week, including sports or heavy physical work, to allow your body time to recover.