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HomeFAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

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Abortion (General)

How is my pregnancy calculated?
Gestation is estimated by counting the days from the first day of your last period. The confirmed gestation after an ultrasound may provide a different result. Use our gestation calculation tool to estimate your gestation.
How long before I can safely become pregnant again after an abortion?

If you’re planning another pregnancy, we recommend waiting until after your first normal period. Read our blog How long after an abortion can you get pregnant again? to learn more.

I have had an abortion before. Does this increase the risks?

Generally having more than one abortion doesn’t increase the risks of the procedure or future risks to your health. All medical procedures have some potential risks and these will be discussed during your appointment.

Will an abortion affect my future fertility?

Most abortions are uncomplicated and will not affect your future fertility. There has been an association with an increased risk of preterm (early) birth after surgical abortion but this risk is reduced with modern surgical methods. Our blog post How long after an abortion can you get pregnant again might also provide you with some really good insights.

Why do I have to be at least 6 weeks pregnant for an appointment?

6 weeks is usually when we can confirm your pregnancy on an ultrasound. If we can’t confirm your pregnancy, then you might not be able to go ahead. If a surgical abortion is performed too early, there’s an increased risk of the procedure being unsuccessful.

What is the success rate of an abortion?

Both medical and surgical abortion have high success rates. The chance of continuing pregnancy or incomplete abortion is slightly higher with a medical abortion. See our comparison of medical and surgical abortion here.

What procedure should I have?

Both medical and surgical abortion are safe and effective. Which method you choose may depend on the stage of your pregnancy, your medical history and your personal preference about what is important to you.

Some people find medical abortion more private, more convenient and feel more in control, but bleeding and cramping are almost always more than with a surgical abortion.

A surgical abortion is almost always performed under anaesthesia (asleep) and usually takes less time to complete.

See our comparison of medical and surgical abortion here.

When can I have sex/swim after an abortion?

We recommend no sex (or nothing in the vagina) or swimming for one week after both medical and surgical abortion.

I think I am having a miscarriage what should I do?

Bleeding is common in early pregnancy and doesn’t always mean you’re having a miscarriage. We would recommend seeing your GP who can assess what’s happening with your pregnancy and arrange any tests, as they can effectively review and manage a miscarriage. If you’d prefer, you can also visit our clinics; however please be aware that a consultation fee applies.

I’m struggling with morning sickness/pregnancy symptoms prior to my appointment. What should I do?

Please see your local GP who will be able to prescribe anti-nausea medication.

I’m experiencing pregnancy symptoms following my procedure, what do I do?

Some pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea, improve within a few days after a successful abortion. Others, like breast soreness, may take a week or two to improve. If you are worried, you should contact our aftercare line (post-procedure follow-up service) on 1300 888 022 or see your GP for review.

How long should I wait before I fly?

If you’re having a surgical abortion, we recommend you refer to the medical travel clearance guidelines published by airlines.

As a guide, Qantas and Virgin Australia don’t allow flying within 24 hours of general anaesthetic, or with active bleeding/pain following miscarriage and within 48 hours of a normal vaginal delivery. You should take these guidelines and your particular circumstances into consideration when making travel arrangements.

If you’re having a medical abortion you must be within 2 hours’ access of emergency medical care for at least the first 3 to 4 days of the process. This means, after you take Step 2 of the medication, you cannot catch domestic flights more than 2 hours long. Qantas and Virgin Australia don’t allow flying with active bleeding/pain following a miscarriage or termination. It’s important that you have follow up to ensure the treatment has been successful before travelling overseas.

Is the procedure confidential?

Your procedure details will not be known to anyone without your consent. We will only call or email you to confirm your booking and ensure you have the information you need to proceed safely with your medical procedure.

Medical Abortion

How many weeks can you be to have a medical abortion?

You need to be 6 weeks at the time of your appointment. 6 weeks is usually when we can confirm your pregnancy on an ultrasound. If we can’t confirm your pregnancy, then you might not be able to go ahead.

You can have a medical abortion up to 9 weeks. If you are over 9 weeks you can have a surgical abortion.

Is a medical abortion the same as a miscarriage?

In many ways, a medical termination is similar to a miscarriage, but it’s brought on using medicines. However, people’s experiences of miscarriage vary a lot. And so do people’s experiences of a medical abortion.

What are the common side effects of medical abortion?

You won’t usually notice anything after Step 1, but you might get some bleeding closer to Step 2.

Step 2 will cause bleeding and cramping, but the amount varies from person to person. After Step 2, you might also have nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and chills, but these normally don’t last more than a few hours.

How many tablets do I have to take?

A medical abortion involves taking 2 different medicines. Step 1 is a single tablet, which can be taken in the clinic or at home. Step 2 is 4 tablets, taken 36 – 48 hours later at home. We also give you medicine to help with pain (cramping) and nausea. How to take these medicines will be explained during your appointment.

How long does the whole medical abortion process take?

9 out of 10 people will pass the pregnancy within 4 to 6 hours of the second medication.

During this phase, you may experience intense cramping and heavy bleeding with clots. Typically, these symptoms subside after the pregnancy has been expelled. It’s common for some individuals to have light bleeding for several weeks following a medical abortion.

I don’t know my blood type/have a negative blood type. Will this affect the abortion procedure?

We don’t need to check your blood type for medical abortion or surgical abortion under 10 weeks, as Anti-D* isn’t needed for people with a negative blood group in this case.

(*Anti-D is a special treatment given to some pregnant women to prevent blood-type related problems.)

How long will I be bleeding?

Bleeding normally lasts around 2 weeks. Sometimes light bleeding or spotting may go for longer, sometimes until your next period.

You will probably bleed more than your usual menstrual period and may pass some clots. Bleeding should get lighter after the pregnancy has passed.

How painful is a medical abortion?

Pain in your abdomen (lower tummy) is normal and can range from mild to strong. Pain should get better after the pregnancy has passed. Strong cramping does not usually last longer than 24 hours. You will be given medicines to help with pain and there are some useful pain management tips in our Medical Abortion information booklet.

When do I need to take time off work? Can I drive/do other activities after a medical abortion?

This depends on when you take the medications and the type of work you do. Planning your medical abortion with your doctor can minimise its impact on your schedule.

Typically, you can maintain normal work and activities until initiating Step 2 of the medical abortion process. After Step 2, expect pain and bleeding to commence within an hour, and begin to settle after 4 to 6 hours, though the process could take up to 24 hours. It’s advisable to rest at home for the day following Step 2. Consider additional days off if your job requires physical labour.

When can I start exercising again after a medical abortion?

As soon as you feel well enough, you can do your normal activities and exercise.

Can I choose when I take the medication?

You can have a choice of when you take the first tablet however most people coming to our clinics take this in the clinic. If you prefer to take the first tablet at home, you can discuss this with your doctor at your appointment. This may not be possible if you’re close to the 9-week gestation limit. The first tablet must be taken on or before 9 weeks of pregnancy so this may limit your choice of timing.

Will I be able to breastfeed after a medical abortion?

Yes, you can generally continue breastfeeding during the medical abortion process, with your doctor providing guidance on managing it alongside treatment.

Will I be able to look after my children?

You are strongly encouraged to have a support person present when you take the second medications. Your nurse or doctor will discuss this with you during your appointment.

What follow-up do you need after a medical abortion?

A special urine pregnancy test called a Low Sensitivity Urine Pregnancy test (LSUP test) is now used for follow-up after medical abortion along with a questionnaire to complete about your symptoms and how the procedure went.

The timing of the follow-up questionnaire and LSUP test will be discussed at your appointment but is generally done 2-3 weeks after the taking the medication. If you feel well and your LSUP test is negative (not pregnant), then you will not need any further appointments. If the test is positive or you are worried, call us to arrange further follow up review.

Surgical Abortion

What level of pain can I expect from a surgical abortion?

Most surgical abortions are done under anaesthesia (asleep), so you won’t feel pain during the procedure. If you prefer to be awake, please call us to discuss this option with one of our nurses and check its availability in your location.

Pain after a surgical abortion is usually mild and less than a period.

How much bleeding will there be?

This varies but is usually less than a period and doesn’t usually last more than a week or two. You may have no bleeding at all and this can be normal too. Discover more about surgical abortion bleeding here.

What are the common side effects of surgical abortion?

You’ll normally only have mild bleeding and cramping. You can expect a light bleed that lasts about a week or two.

Some people might feel queasy after anaesthetic, but this doesn’t normally last long and it’s easy to treat. If you prefer to be awake during your surgical abortion procedure, we recommend calling us to chat with one of our nurses. Learn more here.

How long does it take to recover? How much time do I need to take off work?

Many people can return to work the day after a surgical abortion, however, you may want to take the day following your procedure off to recover. If you have a physically demanding job you may want to take a few days off.

If you have had IV sedation, please refer to the Sedation Information Page for more information about what may impact your return to work.

When will I be able to breastfeed?

This depends on the age of your infant and the type/amount of anaesthesia used. Usually, you can breastfeed a few hours after your procedure. Your doctor will discuss this with you during your appointment.

I don’t know my blood type/I have a negative blood type; will this affect the procedure?

If you don’t know or can’t prove your blood type, we can check this in the clinic. An Anti-D injection is offered to Rhesus negative clients having a surgical termination who are more than 10 weeks pregnant. If you are under 10 weeks pregnant, Anti-D is no longer recommended. We will provide you with further information about this at your appointment.

How long does the surgical abortion procedure usually take? How long will I be under?

This depends on how far pregnant you are. The majority of procedures will only take 10 minutes or so and you will be “under” for a similar time. However, you should expect to be at the clinic at least 4 hours.

When can I drive after the surgical abortion procedure?

If you have had IV sedation, you must not drive for 24 hours after the procedure.

If you have not had sedation, you are allowed to drive, but you may still feel unwell after the procedure. We advise against driving yourself home from the clinic.

Can I smoke when I am supposed to be fasting before my appointment?

It’s best not to smoke in the hours before having anaesthesia. You also shouldn’t leave the clinic once you arrive as you may miss your turn when called.

Can I take my usual medication prior to the surgical abortion procedure (often anti-anxiety/anti-depressant meds)?

Yes, you should take your usual medications with a small amount of water early on the morning of your scheduled procedure. Please remember to tell the nurse and the doctor any medications you are taking, including the dose and when you last had them.

Can I have sexual health screening at the time of my surgical abortion procedure?

Unless you ask not to, we routinely screen for sexually transmitted infections (STI screening) at the time of your procedure. You can also choose to have a Cervical Screening Test (previously known as a Pap Smear) at the same time, if this is due. There is no additional cost for these tests.

Abortion by Telehealth

What is abortion by telehealth?

Abortion by telehealth is where you have an appointment with a doctor over the phone instead of coming to a clinic. We email you a form to have an ultrasound close to home. After a second consultation we mail you your medication directly to you. In some instances, you may have the option to pick it up from a pharmacy if you prefer. Learn more here.

Is abortion by telehealth safe?

Having a medical abortion by telehealth has no more risk than attending a clinic. Medical abortion is very safe, but like any medical treatment, has some risks. These risks do not include all complications, but are the most common or serious.

Who is eligible for abortion by telehealth (teleabortion)?

To ensure your safety and wellbeing and determine your needs, we’ll be guiding you through the brief eligibility assessment before proceeding with your booking. This will involve a few questions and will take approximately 2 to 3 minutes to complete.

Do I need a referral from my doctor to get an abortion by telehealth?

You do not need a referral to access our abortion by telehealth services.

Can I access abortion by telehealth (teleabortion) if I live in a remote area?

You must stay within 2 hours drive to 24-hour emergency medical care for the first 3 or 4 days after taking the medication. You need to be able to access a doctor, hospital or one of our clinics until the process is complete. Do not travel overseas until we have confirmed the abortion is complete.

What medications are used in abortion by telehealth (teleabortion)?

Please refer to page 8-10 of this booklet for more information.

What happens in case of complications?

In case of complications, you are encouraged to call our free nursing support line on 1300 888 022 on weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm AEST/AEDT. For 24/7 assistance, Health Direct (call 1800 022 222) is available. Alternatively, you can contact your GP or visit the local hospital.

I can’t find the patient information brochure link/email.
Who will deliver my medication?

Your medication will be delivered by courier (StarTrack)

When will my medication be dispatched?

Your medication will be dispatched after you complete your doctor consult. Appointments before 12:00pm AEST, will most likely have same day dispatch. Appointments after 12:00pm AEST, will most likely be dispatched the next business day. Average estimated delivery time is 1 to 3 business days. No deliveries will be sent or received on weekends.

Can I pick up my abortion medication from a local pharmacy?

Yes, during your first consultation, the doctor will inform you of the medication name, giving you ample time to plan ahead. If you opt for pharmacy pick-up during your second consultation booking, you’ll need to find a pharmacy that stocks the medication. After completing your second consultation, the doctor will send an electronic prescription to your chosen pharmacy, where you will directly pay for the medication cost.

What does the package look like?

The medication is shipped in discreet plain packaging. The return address will be our pharmacy.

Can I get it delivered to a PO box?

No, the package will need to be signed for. It cannot be sent to a PO Box or post office.

What if I’m not home? Can someone else sign for the delivery?

If you are not present at the delivery address to sign, you can nominate an authorised recipient. We will need the full name of any alternative recipients no later than the time of your second doctor’s consult. Otherwise you can nominate a different address (such as a work address) where we can reach you.

If I miss the delivery, can I just pick it up from the post office?

If no one is present to sign your package will be taken to your nearest collection point, most likely your nearest post office, and the courier will leave a card with instructions.

Will I get a tracking number?

The pharmacy will SMS your tracking number once your medication is dispatched.

How can I get a medical certificate/carer’s certificate?

The doctor can email this to you after your second consultation. If you aren’t sure of the dates at this appointment you can email the telehealth team at a later date (insert telehealth email address).

Contraception

What is the best option for me?

Contraception works best when it’s personalised – so it depends on your preferences, lifestyle factors and medical history as to which method will be the best.

We recommend checking out our contraception page for further information.
You will be given time at your appointment to review your options with the nurse and doctor to help you make the best decision for your body.

What is the difference between the 2 types of hormonal IUDs?

Both of them last up to 5 years, contain the same hormone and have similar effectiveness at preventing pregnancy. For more information on costs, amounts of hormone and device sizes, please refer to this comparison chart for more information.

Your treating doctor can help you decide what option is best for you.

How long does copper IUD last?

The Copper IUD is a good method for those who want a long term, reversible, convenient contraceptive, as it can last 5-10 years, depending on the type of IUD (although it can be removed at any time).

You should keep a record of the date that replacement is due and arrange for replacement no later than this date.

When can I go back to work?

Unless you’re having IV sedation, you can go back to work right after the procedure.

Why do I have to abstain from sex before my contraceptive appointment? (applicable to IUD, implant & injection)

We need to be able to confidently exclude the possibility of a very early pregnancy before inserting an IUD. If this is not possible your appointment may need to be rescheduled. In very early pregnancy, a urine pregnancy test may still be negative. Abstaining from sex for 3 weeks is the most reliable way to exclude early pregnancy.

When can I have sex/swim after having an IUD inserted?

We recommend no sex (or nothing in the vagina) or swimming for 2 days (48 hours) after insertion of an IUD. An IUD may not be effective for 7 days after insertion. You can discuss this and get more information at your appointment.

Can I use other forms of contraception rather than abstinence?

If you’re having a contraceptive device inserted, we need to be able to make sure that you’re not pregnant at the time. If your appointment is outside our recommended insertion timeframe, you’ll need to either abstain from sex, or have been using a reliable method of contraception since your last period.

  • If you’ve been taking the pill, you must not have missed any pills.
  • If you’ve been using condoms, the nurse or doctor might ask you some questions to make sure there’s no chance of a pregnancy.
  • If you’ve had your tubes tied, your partner has had a vasectomy or if you’re in a same sex relationship you don’t need to abstain.
Why do I need to abstain for 1 week/use barrier method of contraception for my IUD/IUS removal?

Sperm can live inside the vagina for up to a week after ejaculation, so to avoid any risk of pregnancy it is advised to abstain unless you are planning a pregnancy.

How long until I can rely on my new device as contraception?

If inserted at the following times, your device is effective immediately. (Day 1 is the first day of your period or the day of an abortion)

Contraceptive implant or injection – Day 1 to 5

Hormonal IUD – Day 1 to 7

Copper IUD – any time

If inserted outside of this time frame, abstaining or a barrier form of contraception should be used for 7 days to ensure effectiveness.

How long does the procedure take (IUD/IUS/Implanon)

The procedure itself usually only takes less than 10 minutes, but your total time at the clinic will be longer. Learn more: Copper IUD, Hormonal IUD.

What emergency contraception methods does MSI provide?

In Australia, two types of emergency contraception are available:

  • The copper intrauterine device (IUD) is the most effective emergency contraception. Learn more.
  • Emergency contraceptive pills (also known as the morning after pill or ECP). The ECP is available from most pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription. Learn more.

MSI Australia offers copper IUD insertion. Call 1300 003 707 to book now.

Learn more about emergency contraception here.

Vasectomy

Is it reversible if I change my mind?

You should only choose vasectomy if you’re sure you don’t want to have (any more)children. You should think of a vasectomy as a permanent method of contraception. Reversing a vasectomy is possible but not always successful and is very expensive. MSI Australia does not offer this service.

Is it 100% effective?

Vasectomy is one of the most effective forms of contraception. Only 1 in 1000 procedures fail, which means it’s 99.9% effective.

How long will I need to avoid sexual activity?

This is usually around one week. You will need to use an effective method of contraception until you have had your semen tests and been given all clear.

Will my ejaculations look the same?

There are no changes in sexual function following a vasectomy. This includes ejaculation and erections. A nurse can discuss this and any other questions you may have at your pre-admission assessment phone call.

Can I shower after the procedure?

You will have a small dressing that is water-resistant for about 5-7 days. You can take short showers but do not bathe or swim for the first week after your vasectomy.

How much time do I need off work/exercise?

If you work sitting at a desk, we advise one day off. If you must go work, then minimal walking and standing in the first few days is advised.

You cannot lift 20-30kg or similar strenuous activities until after 2 weeks. Therefore, if your work is very physical we advise that you take 1-2 weeks off work or shift to light duties if possible after 1 week off.

You should limit most sporting activities for two weeks following the procedure, and can return to most strenuous activities by four weeks following your procedure.

If your work is particularly physical or involves standing or walking for long periods, we can issue you a medical certificate for light duties.

Some people schedule their Vasectomy over a period of leave from work. The nurse and doctor will both review this with you prior to your procedure.

Can I travel overseas / interstate after the procedure?

You are able to travel, but should consider restrictions on lifting heavy object like luggage, and avoid walking and standing for prolonged periods for 2 days after your vasectomy.

(Airlines do not permit air travel within 24 hours of general anesthetic, although they don’t specify restrictions after IV sedation.)

How old do I have to be?

If you are under the age of 30 and do not have biological children you will need to speak with one of our counsellors before your procedure. We do not provide vasectomy to those under the age of 25 who do not have biological children. Read more What age can you get a vasectomy in Australia?

What is the length of the procedure?

The procedure will usually take around 20 minutes.

What technique will be used?

Our surgeons use the vasectomy technique considered to be the gold-standard – no scalpel, open-ended. This technique has the lowest risk of failure and other complications. Learn more.

What is the difference between scalpel/non-scalpel?

Scalpel / non-scalpel refer to how the scrotum is entered to get to the vas. Your doctor will discuss this with you during your appointment. This can also be discussed with a nurse during your pre-admission appointment.

What is the difference between open and closed ended techniques?

Open / closed ended refers to whether the end of the vas attached to the testicle is tied or sealed after being divided. Your doctor will discuss this with you during your appointment. You can also discuss this with a nurse during your pre-admission appointment. Learn more here.

How long does it take to recover?

Full recovery usually takes 4 weeks. We recommend using ice, rest, and decreased physical activity for the first week. Learn more here.

How long do I have to abstain from sex prior to providing my semen sample?

You must not ejaculate for 3 to 4 days prior to providing your sample.

How do I provide my sample?

Please ejaculate directly into the sample cup. Do not collect from a condom or pull out during sex to provide the sample. The first sample must be tested within 4 hours of ejaculation and any subsequent samples within 1 hour. Please call your local pathology before dropping off your sample as they may need to organise a courier to take it to the examination laboratory.

When will I know if my vasectomy has been successful?

3 months after your vasectomy, you will need to do a semen test. You cannot do it earlier. Your sample is checked under a microscope to see if there are any sperm left. If there are no sperm your vasectomy has been successful. Sometimes we need to do another test one month later before confirming if your vasectomy is successful. We generally contact you about 3 weeks after your test to inform you of the results. However, this timeframe may vary for different clients.

Sedation/Anaesthetic

What is Local Anaesthetic (LA)? Do I need a needle for LA?

Local anaesthetic is medicine used to numb areas before painful procedures. Local anaesthetic injections are used to numb the skin for contraceptive implant insertion and removal. The cervix (neck of the womb) can also be sprayed or injected for IUD procedures and surgical abortions. This will reduce some discomfort however you will still feel some discomfort or uterine cramps. Local anaesthetic injections can also be used for vasectomy procedures.

Depending on the procedure or circumstances, the doctor may use a local anaesthetic injection, local anaesthetic spray or no local anaesthetic at all. Your doctor will discuss which of these will be used in your circumstances. The cost of a procedure is the same regardless of which is used.

Learn more here.

Is IV Sedation the same as General Anaesthesia?

IV Sedation can range from ‘conscious sedation’ where you’re sleepy and relaxed but able to respond, to a deeper level of sedation where you’re less responsive, but you’re still able to breathe on your own without assistance.

General Anaesthetic usually means a deeper level of sedation than IV Sedation. You’ll be unconscious and might need assistance breathing. We do not offer General Anaesthetic, except for tubal ligation procedures.

Learn more here.

Can you feel anything under anaesthesia?

IV sedation: Most of the time you won’t feel pain or discomfort and won’t remember anything from the procedure. However, there’s a possibility of some memory, depending on the level of sedation used.

Local anaesthetic: The level of discomfort you feel depends on the type of procedure you’re having:

IUD procedures – LA reduces discomfort during the insertion/removal procedure, but you may still feel sharp or period-like cramps. Some people may also have period-like cramps in the hours after an IUD insertion procedure. We can provide pain relief medicine in the clinic, if needed.

Vasectomy – Our doctors use a painless needle technique, so most people feel little or no pain. You might feel a brief sharp discomfort while the local anaesthetic is injected, but you should feel minimal discomfort during the rest of the procedure.

If I have No Sedation/LA can I drive myself home/go to work the same day?

This depends on the type of procedure you are having:

Surgical abortion

You are allowed to drive if you haven’t had sedation, however you may feel unwell after your procedure and we advise against driving yourself home from the clinic. You should go home and rest after your procedure, but if you feel well enough you could work a desk job or similar. Remember though, you might be at the clinic for around four hours or more, even if you’re not having sedation.

IUD

You can usually drive yourself home and work the same day.

Vasectomy

You should go home and rest and avoid standing or walking on the first day. This will reduce the possibility of getting swelling.

If you have any other questions, please get in touch.