Vacuum Aspiration

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Surgery Overview

In vacuum aspiration, a doctor uses gentle suction to remove the contents of the uterus. There are two methods of vacuum (or suction) aspiration.

  • Manual vacuum aspiration involves the use of a specially designed syringe to apply suction. A thin tube is passed into the uterus. Then a valve is released that creates suction to remove the tissue.
  • Electric vacuum aspiration involves the use of a thin tube that is attached to a pump. The tube is passed into the uterus. Then suction is used to remove the tissue.

What To Expect

Vacuum aspiration is a minor medical procedure. A normal recovery includes:

  • Irregular bleeding or spotting for the first 2 weeks. Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding. Using pads makes it easier to monitor your bleeding.
  • Cramps similar to menstrual cramps. They help to shrink the uterus back to its nonpregnant size. You may have cramping for up to a few weeks.

After the procedure:

  • If your doctor prescribed medicines, take them exactly as directed.
  • Rest as much as you can. You can do normal activities the next day, based on how you feel.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Do not take aspirin unless your doctor prescribed it. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have vaginal sex.

    You can get pregnant in the weeks after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about birth control options.

Why It Is Done

Vacuum aspiration can be done in the first trimester to end a pregnancy. It may also be done to empty the uterus after:

  • A failed or incomplete pill abortion.
  • Death of the embryo or fetus (miscarriage).

How Well It Works

Vacuum aspiration is a common type of in-clinic abortion. It is usually effective. In rare cases, the procedure doesn't end a pregnancy. This is more likely to happen during the earliest weeks of pregnancy.


Vacuum aspiration rarely causes any problems. Possible problems include:

  • Tissue remaining in the uterus.
  • Failure to end the pregnancy (when it's used for abortion).
  • Injury to the cervix.
  • A hole in the wall of the uterus (uterine perforation).
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding.
  • Infection.


Current as of: November 27, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.