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A doctor explaining to the patient about the precautions in pregnancy

For women seeking an abortion between 12 and 26 weeks of pregnancy, medications are not an option. Second trimester abortions usually involve a surgical procedure and may require two or more visits to the clinic to complete. There are a few different methods that can be used for second trimester abortions. Your doctor will discuss the procedures with you and explain which is the best choice for your needs. Here is a look at what you can expect.


No matter which method of abortion your doctor chooses, it is necessary to dilate your cervix. To accomplish this, laminaria sticks are inserted gently into the cervix. The sticks are completely sterile and only used once. Because the laminaria sticks take time to work, you may be sent home and asked to return to the clinic the next morning. Some women experience cramping and nausea with the laminaria sticks. If you have intense pain, talk to your doctor.

Abortion Procedure

For second trimester abortions, doctors almost always choose dilation and curettage (D&C) or dilation and evacuation (D&E).  D&Cs can generally be performed up to 16 weeks and use a curettage tool to complete the abortion. D&E is more commonly used during the second trimester and uses suction and grasping instruments. You will be given an option to have general anesthesia, conscious sedation, or local anesthesia.

After the Procedure

After the abortion, you may experience spotting for a few weeks. You may need medications for pain and to contract your uterus. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to become sexually active again. Your doctor will also discuss warning signs of complications or infections that you should report right away if you experience them.

At Washington Surgi-Clinic, we’re committed to providing access to safe abortions and care before and after the procedure to women in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Let us help you understand your options for your reproductive health, including answering your questions about birth control and abortion. Schedule an appointment at our women’s clinic today by calling (202) 659-9403.