Women's Health Alliance Women's Health Alliance

Dilation & Evacuation

When tissue from the pregnancy remains in the womb after a miscarriage, it can cause heavy bleeding or infection. Electing for a D&E procedure will avoid this. The D&E (Dilation and Evacuation) procedure is a minor surgical procedure which involves dilating the cervix and cleaning out or “evacuating” the uterus. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes to complete.

When does a Dilation and Evacuation Procedure take place?

  • After a missed abortion: the embryo or fetus dies, but no bleeding or cervical opening occurs
  • After inevitable abortion: the embryo or fetus dies, and painful or heavy bleeding occurs

After a D&E, a normal recovery may include:

  • Irregular bleeding or spotting for the first 2 weeks. During the first week, avoid tampons and use only pads.
  • Cramps similar to menstrual cramps, which may last from several hours to a few days, as the uterus shrinks back to non-pregnant size.
  • Emotional reactions for 2-3 weeks. It is normal to feel relief, sadness, grief, or guilt. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make emotions stronger than usual.