Manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) is a fast and safe way to empty the
womb using a large syringe and cannula. It can be used:
• to help a woman who has had a miscarriage
or abortion that was not complete.
• to regulate monthly bleeding.
• to end an unwanted pregnancy.
Using MVA to empty the womb is done the same way in each case.
In this book we explain how to use MVA to help women who
have had incomplete abortions or miscarriages — when a
pregnancy ends early but some tissue is left in the womb. Also see
Chapter 22 which explains other ways to help a woman after an abortion or
miscarriage. MVA is only part of the care that she needs.
MVA is safer, simpler, and less expensive than other methods used to empty the
womb. While other methods are usually only done by doctors in medical centers,
MVA can be done by midwives, nurses, or anyone who has been trained, who has
the right tools, and who can sterilize those tools. If midwives and others learn to
use MVA safely, more women, especially poor women and women who live in
villages far from medical care, will have access to safe abortions and to life-saving
care after incomplete miscarriage and abortion.
Some notes about learning MVA
• Before you read this chapter you must understand infection prevention
(Chapter 5) and pelvic exams (Chapter 20).
• Find out what the law is where you live. In some places, midwives are
encouraged to learn MVA. In other places, midwives are not allowed to
• Doing MVA can cause an infection in the womb or injury to the womb.
Use this chapter to help you learn, but remember, you cannot learn as
much from a book as you can from an experienced teacher. You must be
trained to do MVA by someone with experience.