After an Abortion...

What can I expect following my abortion?

  • You may experience cramping (similar to menstrual cramps, but sometimes more intense).
  • You may experience bleeding and/or spotting for 3-6 weeks, sometimes including small clots. Some women experience no bleeding, which is also normal.
  • A normal period should begin within 4 to 8 weeks (the bleeding may be heavier, darker or lighter than you usually experience).
  • Pregnancy symptoms should subside within one week.
  • Some women experience breast engorgement. If your breasts are painful and/or you notice secretion, bind them tightly with a snug bra, a folded towel secured with safety pins, or a 7 inch ACE bandage. Ice may be used (10 minutes on, 20 minutes off). Stimulation, such as hot water from a shower, should be avoided.
  • You may experience a wide range of emotions (relief, sadness, etc.). Call the clinic if you have any distressing or uncomfortable feelings that do not pass. There is no charge for a counseling session following an abortion.
  • Pregnancy can occur any time after an abortion. Birth control is necessary if you do not wish to become pregnant. If you are starting birth control pills, you should use a back-up method (condoms, spermicides, abstinence) with the first cycle of pills.

What do I need to do?

  • Uterine massage can help decrease cramping. To perform uterine massage, use the heel of your hand and push inward firmly on your abdomen while rubbing in a downward motion, from your navel to your pubic hair line. The purpose of uterine massage is to stimulate your uterus to contract back to it’s pre-pregnant size, thus causing bleeding and possibly clots, which your body needs to pass to stop the cramping.
  • Take your temperature every day for the next week; a fever may be an indication that you are developing an infection. Call the clinic if your temperature goes above 100.4 degrees.
  • Use maxi pads until your next period, and monitor how much you are bleeding. If you experience heavy bleeding (consistently soaking a pad in less than one hour) call the Clinic.
  • Take all of your prescribed medications as instructed.
  • Return to the Clinic or see your referring physician for a checkup 2 to 3 weeks following your abortion, even if you are still bleeding.

After an abortion, your cervix may be open for a period of time; generally 1 week for first trimester abortions and two weeks for 2nd trimester. To reduce the risk of infection:

  • Do not use tampons until your next period (in 4-8 weeks).
  • Do not douche, have intercourse, or put anything into your vagina for 1-2 weeks, as specified.
  • Do not take a tub bath or go swimming for 1-2 weeks, as specified. You may shower or kneel down in a bath tub and sponge off.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise (aerobics, running) and heavy lifting (over 15 pounds) for 1-2 weeks, as specified.
  • Avoid aspirin, alcohol and marijuana. These may cause heavier bleeding.


Resources to help you explore post-abortion emotions and insights:

According to a study published in the August 2000 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, "The rate of depression among women who had an abortion is the same as the incidence of depression among women aged 15 to 35 years in the general US population (20%),"

"Women with a prior history of depression may be predisposed to subsequent depression and regret, regardless of whether or not they have an unintended pregnancy and how they choose to resolve that pregnancy," according to Dr. Brenda Major with the University of California, Santa Barbara, and colleagues.

If you have questions, call the clinic that performed your abortion.

updated: June 10, 2011

If you had an abortion

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