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What to Expect After an Abortion

Dec 01, 2015

If you are planning on ending an unplanned pregnancy, you may wonder what to expect after an abortion. The recovery depends how far along you are and what type of abortion you have. The two types include:

  1. Medical Abortion – This is also known as the abortion pill and is a non-surgical way to have an abortion. It is done up to 9 or 10 weeks of pregnancy, but most often up to 9 weeks.
  2. Surgical Abortion – This procedure surgically removes the pregnancy from the uterus. It is done up to the 14th week of pregnancy, but optimal time for this type is between the 8th and 12th week of pregnancy. In certain cases, late term abortions can be performed any time between the 12th and 18th week of pregnancy.

Early surgical abortions are done with a vacuum where the contents of the uterus are drawn out with a vacuum. In later term abortions, labor may be induced and the fetus delivered.

What to Expect After an Abortion with Pills

In this procedure, your doctor will have you take a Mifeprex tablet in the office. At home you will be taking Misoprostol within the first 24 to 48 hours after the Mifeprex. Within 20 minutes to 4 hours after taking Mifeprex, you will begin to feel the medication begin to work. Here is a description of what you may feel:

  • Pelvic Cramps and PainWhen you begin to feel cramps in your pelvic area, the procedure is beginning to work. This is normal and can be very painful. They feel worse than your period. You can take painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen if needed.
  • Bleeding – Bleeding can be severe with this type of abortion and you may even notice clots. The clots can be very large, but shouldn’t worry you. You may bleed heavy the first few days and then it will taper to a lighter flow more like a period for up to a few weeks. You will then notice light spotting for another few weeks. After the pregnancy is passed from the body the bleeding should slow down a bit.

Note: Use only pads or sanitary towels for post abortion bleeding and only use tampons after you have had your first period after the procedure.

  • Mild Fever – Misoprostol can make you run a slight fever around 101°F. This usually lasts for about an hour and then go back to normal after you begin to bleed. Take your temperature for three hours and increase your fluid intake.
  • Other Symptoms – You may feel weak or have vomiting and diarrhea with the procedure. These are very common side-effects of the medications you were given. These should last for the first 24 hours and then subside.

Doctor Re-Check: You will need to see your doctor 10 days to 2 weeks after the procedure is completed to have an ultrasound. This will help your doctor make sure all the contents of your uterus were delivered. Around 1% of medical abortions can have tissue remain in the uterus and this can cause infection and complications. The doctor will make arrangements to surgically clear out the uterus if needed and talk to you about birth control for the future.

What to Expect After Surgical Abortion

A surgical abortion is done in a clinic or hospital.Depending on whether you are in your 1st or 2nd trimester, the doctor will surgically empty the contents of your uterus.The procedure will take a few minutes to a half-hour. After the procedure you will be taken to a recovery room to rest. They will check your blood pressure and give you pain medications for cramping. They will check your bleeding and possibly offer you a snack and drink.

You will be given a “care sheet” for what to do when you go home. Make sure you have a number to the clinic that you can call if you experience complications. Also, make sure you have someone to drive you home.

Doctor Re-Check: You will need to go back to the clinic around 2 to 3 weeks after the procedure for a re-check. The doctor will make sure that the abortion was complete with an ultrasound and pregnancy test. You can ask the doctor any questions and discuss birth control at this time.

What to Expect After an Abortion: Both Types of Procedures

  • Emotionally – You may feel several different emotions ranging fromguilt, relief, or sadness. If you are having trouble with your emotions, ask for counseling at the abortion center.
  • Decrease of Pregnancy Symptoms – Your pregnancy symptoms such asnausea, morning sickness, and fatigue usually stop after around the third day after your abortion. You may notice your sore and enlarged breasts go away within 7 to 10 days. Right after the abortion, your breasts may fill up and leak milk for 3 to 4 days and then go away.
  • Return of Periods – You can expect your periods to return within 4 to 6 weeks after an abortion. Any bleeding that you experience prior to 6 weeks is post abortion bleeding and not considered a period.

Home Care Tips After an Abortion

  1. Sex After Abortion – Do not have sex after an abortion until your doctor tells you it is okay. You can get pregnancy at any time after an abortion so discuss birth control with your doctor.
  2. Showering and Bathing –  Use caution when bathing or showering for the first 24 hours after you have sedation. Otherwise, you can bathe or shower as normal.
  3. Normal Activity – Stay off your feet and rest the first day or two after the procedure.
  4. Travel – Avoid travel for the first day in case you have complications. If you had a medical abortion and have not yet passed you pregnancy, you need to remain at home in case you start bleeding heavy.

What Symptoms to Watch Out For After an Abortion?

Once you have understood what to expect after an abortion, you need to understand symptoms that may be signs you are having post abortion complications. Call your doctor if any of these things happen to you:

  • Heavy Bleeding (Soaking more than two pads per hour)
  • Prolonged Bleeding (Bleeding over 12 hours post abortion that is heavy or still spotting after 2 weeks)
  • Large Clots (Passing large clots that are more than a golf ball size)
  • Symptoms of Infection (Fever over 100.4 longer than a 4-hour period, vomiting longer than a 6-hour period, muscle aches, weakness, dizziness, foul discharge from vagina)
  • No Period after 6 Weeks (You could be pregnant)
  • Severe Depression