When the pregnancy is more advanced and the uterus is larger we utilize laminaria to dilate the cervix prior to surgery. Laminaria usage makes a surgical procedure easier, safer, quicker and less uncomfortable for the woman. We place laminaria in the cervix, usually the day before the procedure, and allow it to dilate the cervix overnight. Laminaria is a sterilized, compressed seaweed about the size of a matchstick, which will gently dilate the cervix overnight. Placing the laminaria involves visualizing the cervix with a speculum. The laminaria may then be placed gently into the cervix. When the laminaria is in the cervix, a gauze pad is then placed into the vagina to hold it in place. This whole procedure usually takes less than a minute, and may cause some cramping, but is not very difficult for most women.
With the laminaria in place, the patient may go home where she may resume all normal activities including bathing, showering or exercise. After the placement of the laminaria, sexual activity is not permitted. Most women either do not notice that the laminaria is in place, or they experience some cramping, which is usually mild, and is relieved by taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
The following day, the patient returns to the office at which time the laminaria is removed, and the surgical procedure will take place. Risks of laminaria are minimal. The most important thing is that the laminaria must be removed in 24 hours – otherwise serious infection could result. In very rare circumstances, a laminiaria could break apart or push up into the uterus causing problems or a laminaria could be placed and may perforate (poke a hole in) the uterus. If a woman changes her mind about the abortion and has the laminaria removed without going through with the procedure, miscarriage is more likely to occur.
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Exhale offers a free, After-Abortion Talkline
that provides emotional support, resources
and information to women who have had
abortions and to their partners, friends,
allies and family members. All calls are completely confidential and counselors are non-judgmental.
Frequently Asked Questions
National Organization for Women
Rochester, NY Chapter
Monroe County Medical Society
Medical Society of the State of New York
National Abortion Federation
J Fam Pract. 1997