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Surgical abortion with local anaesthetic

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What is local anaesthetic?

For a surgical abortion with local anaesthetic, the doctor will inject numbing medicine into or near your cervix (neck of the womb). In addition, you may be given pain medication by mouth. This does not make the procedure pain-free, but you should experience less pain. A nurse will stay with you throughout the procedure to provide you with comfort and support.

Before your treatment appointment, we encourage you to eat a light meal and drink as normal. You should bring to the clinic prescribed medicines or inhalers, stick-on sanitary towels, extra underwear, slippers, nightshirt and dressing gown.

Midwife with patient reviewing documentation

You should plan to be at the clinic for at least 3 to 4 hours.

Before arriving at the clinic, you should take 800 mg ibuprofen (4 x 200 mg tablets or 2 x 400 mg tablets) by mouth.  If you cannot take ibuprofen then take 1000 mg paracetamol (2 x 500 mg tablets.) We encourage you to eat a light meal and drink as normal before your appointment. 

Please ensure you bring any prescribed medicines or inhalers, stick-on sanitary towels, extra underwear, and slippers, nightshirt and dressing gown.

Clients can bring one person with them to the clinic. They will be allowed into the waiting area with you but due to the size of some of our clinics they may not be able to stay with you. Please be aware that at some point during your time with us we will want to see you alone.

Once you have checked in with the receptionist, your name and date of birth will be checked and you will be asked to go into a waiting room. A nurse will collect you and ask if you would like your support person to accompany you through this stage. The nurse will make sure that all your paperwork is complete and accurate. Your medical history will be confirmed.

Your nurse will ask you to use the toilet and to undress and put on a gown or the nightshirt you brought with you. She will then show you where to store your belongings.

A female adult of your choice can stay with you throughout your treatment and you need an adult (aged 18 or over) to take you home when it is finished - if this is difficult for you, please tell the clinic at the earliest opportunity so that your treatment can be provided safely.

You will have a BPAS support person with you throughout treatment. We will also keep your own support person up to date with your progress if you wish and you can rejoin them as quickly as possible if you prefer. Please discuss this with your nurse.

If you are under the age of 16 a female support person can stay with you, right up until you go into theatre. More information for under 16s.

Local anaesthetics are generally very safe and serious problems are rare. You shouldn’t experience any significant side effects. Some people experience temporary side effects such as:

  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • low blood pressure
  • shaking
  • ringing in the ears
  • metallic taste in the mouth

Significant unavoidable or frequently occurring risks

  • Some discomfort when the injection is given
  • In very rare cases, you could have an allergic reaction to the local anaesthetic or develop serious problems, such as fits (seizures), trouble breathing, abnormal heartbeat, or a cardiac depression or arrest (when the heart stops pumping blood around the body)

After your treatment you can go home once the recovery staff have decided you are ready for discharge. You may drive and do not need an escort to take you home unless you are under 18 years of age.