When having an early surgical abortion, there are several different forms of pain reduction to choose from. Your choice will likely be based on your own levels of comfort with the procedure, the types of anesthesia offered by the clinic where you are having your procedure, and when you have the procedure completed. There are four main types of anesthesia associated with surgical abortion.
With local anesthesia, only your cervix is numbed. You will be awake and fully aware throughout the entire procedure. This can be a preferred method because it has a fast recovery time and you may be able to get home on your own after the procedure.
Local Anesthesia with Oral Tranquilizers (Twilight)
For this method, you will take oral tranquilizers before you come in for the procedure, or you will be given fast-acting oral tranquilizers directly before the procedure. You will still be awake and responsive, but you will be relaxed. You may not remember much of the procedure afterward, and you will need to rely on someone you trust to help get you home.
Local Anesthesia with Intravenous Sedation (Twilight Sleep)
This is often referred to as conscious sedation and involves a continuous flow of a sedative in an IV, usually placed in your hand or arm. Although you will still be awake, you will be less aware than you would be with oral tranquilizers. You are also less likely to form memories while you are sedated, so you may not remember the procedure at all. It takes longer to recover from than only local anesthesia, and you will definitely need help getting home.
General anesthesia for early surgical abortion is rare. It would only be offered if there was a complication with your pregnancy or if other sedation options could not be used. It involves intravenous sedation that will make you fully unconscious, unresponsive, and unaware. Recovery time would be extended even longer than other methods, and you would need to stay at the treatment center until you are fully awake. After which, you would still need help getting home.
Many clinics have standard methods of anesthesia and sedation for each abortion procedure. However, it is important for you to understand what will happen and what your options are. You should ask which options the clinic offers when you make your appointments so you can choose an option that will make you comfortable.