Do You Know What to Expect After an Abortion?
Whether you’ve just had an abortion, or if you’re considering whether to have one, you likely have questions about what to expect after the abortion procedure.
Here is an overview of what typically happens after an abortion procedure, some possible complications to look for, and the emotional after effects of abortion.
What Happens After an Abortion Procedure?
If you have a surgical abortion, you will likely rest for about an hour after the procedure, or until you feel well enough to go home(1).
The following after-abortion symptoms may occur within the first few weeks (2):
- Irregular bleeding or spotting for as long as 3 weeks
- Cramping for the first 2 weeks, or for as long as 6 weeks
- Emotional reactions for as long as 2-3 weeks
- Passing of blood clots
Post-abortion bleeding and cramping can vary from very light to very heavy. For some women, bleeding may stop after 1-2 days, while for others it continues for a few weeks.
The symptoms of pregnancy will also begin to subside at varying rates. Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and tiredness usually go away in a few days. Breast-related symptoms like tenderness or soreness may take as long as 7 to 10 weeks to disappear.
What Are Some Possible Abortion Complications?
The following complications have been reported in women who have had abortions(1):
- Incomplete abortion: This occurs when some fetal tissue remains in your uterus and may require a follow-up procedure to make sure the abortion is complete.
- Infection: Because your cervix is open, you are at greater risk of infection following an abortion. Some abortion clinics will prescribe antibiotics at the time of the procedure.
- Heavy bleeding: Occasionally bleeding is heavy enough to require a blood transfusion.
- Injury to uterus or other organs: This can be caused by surgical instruments puncturing the wall of your uterus or cervix. These injuries are often the cause of heavier-than-normal bleeding.
How do you know if you may be having complications following an abortion? Contact your health provider immediately if you experience any of the following after-abortion symptoms(2):
- Severe bleeding: This includes passing clots bigger than a golf ball for 2 or more hours, soaking 2 or more maxi pads an hour for 2 hours in a row, or bleeding heavily for 12 hours in a row.
- Signs of infection: These could include headaches, muscle aches, dizziness, or fever of 100.4 degrees or higher for more than four hours.
- Severe abdominal pain that isn’t helped by medicine, rest, or heat.
- Vomiting for more than 4 to 6 hours.
- Sudden abdominal swelling or rapid heart rate.
- Pain, swelling, or redness in genital area.
What Are the Emotional Effects of Abortion?
The decision of whether to end a pregnancy can be very difficult, and it is quite common for women to experience feelings of sadness, grief, or guilt after having an abortion.
In addition, the hormonal changes that take place when you become pregnant are affected by the abortion. These hormonal fluctuations cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms for many women:
- Poor concentration
Many women develop depression after an abortion and require treatment from a mental health professional(4).
Get Help with after-Abortion care, Recovery & Pregnancy Options
Do you need help with emotional recovery after an abortion? Worried about the side effects of abortion? Please contact us at Mosaic PHC today and we will provide you with compassionate and professional after-abortion care.
We offer a free abortion recovery and healing program for women who are struggling with a past abortion. Using the book Her Choice to Heal by Sydna Masse, herself a post-abortive woman, the program can be completed in a group setting or one-on-one. Abortion recovery services are strictly confidential.
If you’re considering whether to have an abortion, we offer free options counseling for women facing unplanned pregnancies, with medically accurate information on abortion, as well as adoption and parenting.
All of our services are free and confidential, and provided by a compassionate staff in a nonjudgmental atmosphere.
(1) American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2015). FAQ – Induced Abortion. Accessed from https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq043.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20160811T1438069637.
(2) WebMD. (2014). Abortion — Before, During, and After an Abortion: When to Call a Doctor. Accessed from http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/abortion-before-during-and-after-an-abortion-when-to-call-a-doctor.
(3) University of California at San Francisco. (2016). FAQ: Post-Abortion Care and Recovery. Accessed from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/post-abortion_care_and_recovery/.
(4) WebMD. (2014). Abortion: Emotional Recovery — Topic Overview. Accessed from http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/abortion-emotional-recovery-topic-overview.