Women's Health Matters

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Manual Vacuum Aspiration

Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA)

What is it?
This is a simple procedure done early in pregnancy, which uses the suction of a syringe to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. A local anaesthetic is used to numb the cervix and medicines to reduce pain and anxiety may also be offered. A thin tube is guided through the cervical opening into the uterus. The syringe is attached to the tube and used to remove the contents of the uterus. It takes less than ten minutes.

You should have a follow-up exam three weeks later to make sure it was a success.

When is the procedure done?
This procedure is done early in pregnancy in the first seven to eight weeks from the start of your last period.


  • simple low-risk procedure
  • can be done early before signs of pregnancy occur
  • is over with more quickly than a medical abortion
  • more effective than a medical abortion


  • because the procedure is done so early, there is a one to two percent chance it will be incomplete and need to be repeated
  • side effects include abdominal cramping, pain and menstrual-like bleeding
  • serious complications like infection or damage to the uterus are possible but very rare and occur in less than 0.5 percent of cases


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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital