The use of gentle, neutral language and avoidance of words associated with pain has been shown in some but not all studies to decrease pain perception during procedures such as administration of local anesthesia (Dalton 2014, Ott 2012, Varelmann 2010). This has not specifically been studied in uterine aspiration. Many providers prefer to use language describing what they are doing next rather than what the patient may feel. Others describe symptoms the patient may experience but choose their words carefully, with particular attention to avoiding descriptions of pain or sexual references.  For example, “You may feel a cramp,” as opposed to “You are going to feel a poke/prick/stick”. Below are some tips for language during the procedure (see Chapter 2 for additional suggestions).


Approach to Communication Instead of
Introduction sitting at patient’s level Introduction looking down at patient
Your pregnancy is 8 weeks along. Your baby is 8 weeks old.
Place your feet in the foot holders. Place your feet in the stirrups.
There is room for you to move down further on the exam table. Move your bottom down the bed until you feel like you’re going to fall off.
Allow your knees to fall to the sides. Open or spread your legs.
Your cervix looks healthy and normal. Your cervix / uterus looks/feels good.
You may feel some cool wet cotton to swab away your
natural cervical mucous.
I am cleaning your cervix (implying the cervix is dirty).
 If…then statements such as If you want the
procedure to go as quickly as possible, then hold as still as you can.
You have to hold still.
This is the numbing medicine. You may feel a cramp,
or spreading numbness.
You are going to feel a poke/prick/stick with the injection.
We’re over halfway through; doing great. It will be a few more minutes.
I will place / introduce the IUD or implant. I will insert the IUD or implant.



Early Abortion Training Workbook Copyright © 2016 by UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. All Rights Reserved.