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Manual Vacuum Aspiration

Brief Description – Manual vacuum aspiration is a procedure that is used around 5 to 12 weeks after the last menstrual period (early first trimester) to complete a miscarriage or initiate one. It involves the use of a specially designed syringe to apply suction.

Why the Procedure is Performed

Vacuum aspiration can be done for:

  •  An induced therapeutic abortion
  •  A failed medical abortion
  •  Death of the foetus (missed spontaneous abortion)
  •  An incomplete miscarriage (incomplete spontaneous abortion)How the Procedure is Performed
  • Manual vacuum aspiration usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes.
  • It can be done safely in a clinic or medical office using local anaesthetic and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen.
  • For this procedure, the doctor will position you on the exam table in the same position used for a pelvic exam, with your feet on stirrups while you are lying on your back.
  • The doctor will then insert a speculum into the vagina, clean the vagina and cervix with an antiseptic solution and inject a numbing medicine (local anaesthetic) in the cervix.
  • A small instrument is inserted into the cervix to slightly open (dilate) it, if needed. In most cases, though, dilation is not needed.
  • A thin tube is inserted through the cervix into the uterus. A handheld syringe is then attached and used to suction the tissue out of the uterus.
  • As the uterine tissue is removed, the uterus will contract. In some settings, a suction machine is used in place of the handheld syringe. This is called machine vacuum aspiration.How to Prepare For the ProcedureThe hospital may send you instructions on how to get ready for your surgery. Or a nurse may call you with instructions before your surgery.

During the Procedure

Most women feel cramping during the procedure. The cramps will decrease after the tube is removed. Some women also have nausea or sweating, or they feel faint.

After the Procedure

You may experience irregular bleeding or spotting for the first 2 weeks. During the first week, avoid tampons and use only pads. Cramps similar to menstrual cramps may also be felt. These may be present for several hours and possibly for a few days, as the uterus shrinks back to its non-pregnant size.

Take your full course of prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection. You can do normal activities the following day, based on how you feel. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can help relieve cramping pain.

An abortion, if properly done, rarely affects your ability to become pregnant in the future. So it is possible to become pregnant in the weeks right after the procedure. Avoid sexual intercourse until your body has fully recovered, usually for at least 1 week. Use birth control in the first weeks following the abortion and use condoms to prevent infection.


The risk of complications is low. Some complications include:

  •  Injury to the uterine lining or cervix
  •  Infection
  •  A hole in the wall of the uterus (uterine perforation)
  •  Tissue remaining in the uterus (retained products of conception
  •  Blood clots
  •  Undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy after manual or machine vacuum aspiration
  •  Belly or pelvic pain that gets worse
  •  Pain with intercourse
  •  Vaginal bleeding
  •  Light-headedness or fainting caused by blood loss

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