The most common type of early surgical abortion is the suction curettage or vacuum aspiration procedure, which is performed in an abortion clinic or health care provider’s office. The suction curettage is offered up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. In this type of abortion, a suction device is inserted into the uterus to remove the embryo or fetus. After 12 weeks of pregnancy the surgical abortion is called a dilation and evacuation (D&E). The D&E takes longer to preform and rather than a suction device, surgical instruments are used to remove the embryo or fetus (ACOG FAQ 043 and FAQ 168).
Some of the complications that might happen with a surgical abortion include abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and heavy bleeding. Complications that make it necessary to seek immediate medical attention include severe abdominal or back pain, bleeding that is heavier than a normal period, foul smelling discharge, or a fever above 100.4°F (ACOG FAQ043).