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Types of Sedation for Abortion

With an abortion, your safety and comfort are priorities. The best abortion clinics offer a variety of levels of sedation so that you can choose which feels most comfortable to you. Not all abortion clinics offer every sedation level, so it’s important to call ahead and ask about the risks and benefits of each option. In general, you’ll be able to choose between these three options:

No Sedation for Abortion

Types of Sedation for AbortionNo sedation means that you are fully awake and aware during the procedure. A doctor will likely use a numbing agent on your cervix, and you may feel an injection when the provider injects the numbing agent. Doctors usually only allow no sedation for first trimester abortions, or for very early second trimester terminations.

The benefits of no sedation include:

  • You will be more alert when you leave the clinic.
  • There will be no risk of sedation-related side effects.
  • You will not have to have an IV.
  • If you have anxiety about sedation, you may feel safer and more comfortable.

The drawbacks of this approach include:

  • You will likely experience pain or discomfort during the procedure. This ranges from mild cramps to more severe cramping.
  • You will see and hear everything. For some people, this offers a greater sense of control and understanding. For others, it can be scary or disorienting.

If you opt for no sedation, the provider may still offer you an anti-anxiety medication before the procedure.

Sedation/Twilight Anesthesia

Sedation, sometimes called twilight anesthesia, means that you are awake, but groggy and relaxed during your abortion procedure. A doctor uses an IV to inject a sedative into a vein. You might doze in and out of sleep, or feel like you’re in an altered state. You might feel “high,” and when the sedation wears off, you might not remember much of the procedure.

The benefits of sedation abortion include:

  • You’ll feel more relaxed.
  • You’ll be awake and able to talk, but less likely to feel anxious.
  • You may not feel as much discomfort.
  • You won’t be fully asleep, which can be comforting to people who fear general anesthesia.

The drawbacks of sedation abortion include:

  • Because you are awake, it is possible you might feel high and disoriented, leading to feelings of anxiety or panic.
  • You may want to remember the procedure.
  • You’ll be awake, but confused.
  • The IV can be painful when it is first inserted.
  • Some people develop nausea or other minor complications.

General Anesthesia

With general anesthesia, you will be fully unconscious during the procedure. You will have no memory of the procedure, and will wake up in a recovery room. A doctor usually gives general anesthesia through a vein, so you will feel a quick prick before falling asleep.

Some benefits of general anesthesia abortion include:

  • You will have no pain during the procedure, and no memory after you wake up.
  • You may feel more relaxed knowing that you won’t feel or remember anything.

Some drawbacks of general anesthesia abortion include:

  • You may feel groggy or nauseated after the procedure.
  • Some people have negative reactions to anesthesia.
  • Some people fear going to sleep during the procedure.

When calling an abortion clinic ask them about the types of sedation for abortion care they offer.

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