This option is available to women who are between 6 weeks and 13 weeks + 6 days pregnant on the day of surgery.  If you are beyond 14 weeks of pregnancy we will have to refer you to another service and this is likely to involve travelling outside Plymouth to have a procedure.​

The procedure takes place in the Freedom Unit at Derriford Hospital (public access from Level 3, Terence Lewis Building – 01752 433020). This is performed under general anaesthetic so you will be asleep.​  You have to be there at 7.30am and not have eaten any food for 5 hours or more. You must not have drunk anything for 2 hours or more.

When you arrive you are seen by the surgeon, anaesthetist and a nurse. A vaginal tablet will be inserted that softens the cervix makes it easier to open up the neck of the womb. You will be given pain relief before the procedure to keep you as comfortable as possible.

It is difficult to advise how long you will be waiting to go to theatre as this depends on your position on the operating list and how many women are coming in that day. You should be prepared for a significant wait.

This option is open to women who are between 6 weeks and 14 weeks pregnant on the day before surgery. This is performed under general anaesthetic so you will be asleep.

You will be asked in clinic how you would like us to manage the pregnancy tissue after the procedure.  We will explain your options which are self-disposal, shared burial, shared cremation, sensitive incineration, or being unsure (in this case you can have up to 4 weeks to consider, after which shared burial will occur if we do not hear from you).  Lastly some women do not feel able to engage with this conversation and will choose not to discuss this further and the hospital will arrange a shared burial in this situation.  We will ask you to sign a form outlining which option you wish to choose.

Positive aspects
  • You are asleep so you have less awareness of what is happening to you which some women prefer
  • The bleeding lasts for less time compared to a medical tablet procedure
  • You can have intrauterine contraception fitted at the same time
Negative aspects
  • You have to have a general anaesthetic which means that you need someone with you for 24 hours afterwards and can make you feel drowsy
  • You will have a cannula inserted using a needle, into the back of your hand to give the anaesthetic
  • Some women feel a lack of control over what is happening to them during this process


Things to look out for after the procedure

Failed procedure (continuing pregnancy)
Things to look out for after the procedure:

  • Failed procedure (continuing pregnancy)
  • Rarely the procedure doesn’t work. Symptoms that suggest the pregnancy is continuing are:
  • Less than 4 days bleeding after the treatment
  • Not seeing any blood clots or tissue coming away
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tender breasts
  • Tummy growing
  • No period between 4-6 weeks after your treatment

We recommend all patients repeat a pregnancy test at 4 weeks after the procedure and if it is positive to contact our service. A pregnancy test may remain positive for up to 4 weeks after a successful procedure as the pregnancy hormones take time to settle.

We would expect you to have a period between 4 and 6 weeks after the procedure. This is usually separate from the bleeding that occurs immediately after the procedure.

We routinely give antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection after the procedure. However the following symptoms can suggest an infection and we recommend you contact our service, your GP, NHS 111 or nearest Emergency Department for review:

  • Severe bleeding (more than 4 pads in 2 hours)
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Offensive smelling vaginal discharge
  • Feeling hot or feverish