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Evacuation of retained products of conception (ERPOC)

Before the operation
You may require a blood test or other investigations before your operation. You should stop eating and drinking six hours prior to the operation. You will be admitted and prepared for your stay by one of the nursing staff. In most cases you need only stay as a day case. You will be advised if you need to stay longer. This would normally occur if your surgery is later or you have medical problems.

During your operation
An ERPOC is a quick operation, which takes about 10-15 minutes. Once you are anaesthetised a speculum is inserted into your vagina (the same as that used for a smear). The neck of the womb (cervix) is gently opened (dilated) to a few millimetres. The pregnancy contents in the womb are then gently removed.

After the operation
You will wake up in the recovery room and remain there for about half an hour so the nurses can keep a check on you. Back on the ward regular observations will be taken as well as monitoring your blood pressure and pulse. You will be able to drink and then eat gradually. It is usual to have some slight bleeding, bright red blood at first, which gradually becomes brown in the course of a week or ten days. If this should become heavier (than a normal period) or seems smelly you should contact the ward, your Consultant or your GP, as this could be a sign of infection. If you feel generally unwell and have a high temperature you should call, as this could also be a sign of infection.

Following an ERPOC you may find that your next period is a bit heavier and comes between three and six weeks. Your cycle should soon settle to your normal pattern. Many women find that they have slight, crampy, period-type pains for a day or so. Taking a mild painkiller such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can help this.

Things to avoid after the operation
It is best to use sanitary towels rather than tampons until your next period to help avoid infection.

It is better to shower rather than bath for a few days and avoid using bubble bath or heavily scented soap as this may irritate your vagina. As the neck of the womb has been opened you should avoid having sexual intercourse for one week or until the bleeding has stopped. If possible you should stay off work for a few days to rest. Most women find they are able to return to their usual activities within 72 hours. If you have to take time off work your GP or Consultant's secretary can give you a sickness certificate.

You should not drive for 48 hours as your concentration could be impaired. You will need to arrange for someone to collect you from the hospital.

Further information is available from the Miscarriage Association