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Does Getting an Abortion Hurt?

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When a person presents for an abortion (both medical and surgical), we're frequently asked “Will it hurt?

The answer is both simple and complex.

The short answer is unfortunately, yes. Getting an abortion usually involves some discomfort or even pain. However, so does having a term delivery or getting a vaccine. So does having an IV placed or getting an injection.

Certain pain is unavoidable. Some women even find the pain to be an important part of the abortion process. Regardless, your doctor can do a lot to help you get through any discomfort, both physical and emotional.

Pain Management Options 

Labor pain is an accepted part of our culture, in fact it’s celebrated. “Natural birth” is seen as an emblem of womanhood, a badge of honor. When it comes to abortion, we encourage patients to do what they're comfortable with. There is an entire spectrum of pain management available in most surgical locations. 

Some women may be absolutely comfortable with deep breathing. Others want to listen to their music and hold the assistant’s hand. It's also fine to want a little sedative to ease anxiety, or a numbing medicine injected into their cervix. Patients can also prefer to be totally asleep, unaware of the process; to wake up and have it be all over. At FPA, we are proud to offer the entire spectrum of pain management

The surgical termination is short and safe, usually lasting less than ten minutes.

Regardless of your choice of anesthesia—local (numbing medicine injected around your cervix), sedation (pain and anxiety medicine injected intravenously), or general (completely asleep)—our caring staff will support you throughout the procedure. They will hold your hand, encourage you to take slow, deep breaths (in through your nose and out through your mouth), play music of your choice, and engage in conversation about work, children, and hometowns. We do everything possible to complete the procedure compassionately and make you as comfortable as possible.

Because of logistical or clinical constraints, some people need to have a surgical termination with a second-choice anesthesia. That happens either because they can’t miss another day of work, have no transportation to a different location, or they have a medical risk factor.

In the end, the most common emotion is relief, understanding that it is over. Women are strong. Every day, we are awed by our patients’ strength and determination to get through what they know in their hearts to be the right choice for them.

To learn more about surgical or medication abortion, visit our dedicated abortion page or make an appointment online.