After Abortion Care & Support
Many women have concerns about their health following an abortion. It is important to understand what symptoms to expect and how to take care of yourself after an abortion. Your doctor or clinic should provide you with specific abortion after-care instructions.
Taking Care of Yourself After an Abortion
- Drink water and healthy fluids.
- Eat healthy food.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Avoid strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects for at least one week.
- Take any antibiotics you were given for the full number of days prescribed.
- Avoid vaginal insertions for at least two weeks, including sex and tampons.
Call your doctor if you are concerned about any symptoms you are having.
Post Abortive Complications: Warning Signs
Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms after an abortion:
- Heavy bleeding or passing large clots (larger than golf ball size).
- Bleeding that lasts more than 14 days.
- Fever over 100 degrees.
- Abdominal pain that is worse than a normal period.
- Signs of infection such as achiness and general feeling of illness.
- Vomiting that lasts more than 4 hours.
- Sudden abdominal swelling or rapid heart rate.
- Vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
- Pain, redness or swelling in the genital area.
If you have any of the above after an abortion, seek emergency medical care immediately.
Your doctor or clinic should provide you with specific abortion after-care instructions. Most women experience some of the following after an abortion:
- Bleeding – on average bleeding lasts 14 days,but can last as long as 21 days. 1
These symptoms typically resolve within a week, sometimes longer. If symptoms persist or become severe, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.
While both medical and surgical abortions are generally considered to be safe, they can sometimes result in serious complications.
One of the most common complications is infection. This can be caused by incomplete abortion or exposure to bacteria vaginally, such as by having sex too soon. You can reduce the risk of infection by waiting to have sex and using pads instead of tampons.
Symptoms of infections include strong-smelling vaginal discharge, fever, and severe pelvic pain. Untreated infections can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, so call your doctor for treatment as soon as you notice symptoms.
Other potential complications that a woman may experience from or after an abortion include:
Incomplete or failed abortion, in which the fetus is still viable or was not fully evacuated from the womb. This can cause serious medical complications.
Uterine perforation, which has symptoms of severe abdominal pain, bleeding, and fever.
Septic shock, which has symptoms that include fever, chills, abdominal pain, and low blood pressure.
Some symptoms can indicate an emergency complication stemming from your abortion. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care:
excessively heavy bleeding (as discussed above)
strong-smelling vaginal discharge
severe abdominal pain
Sex after an abortion
After both types of abortion procedures, it’s typically advised that you wait about two weeks before having sex or inserting anything vaginally. This reduces the risk of infection, and is an important part of post-abortion care.
If you have unprotected sex following an abortion, call your doctor or local clinic and ask what measures you can take to prevent pregnancy.
If you suddenly experience sharp pain during sex after an abortion, call your local clinic for advice. If they believe it’s not an emergency, they may still schedule you for a follow-up.
Research suggests that women who have had abortions may be at increased risk for mental health problems. 2 Some women report symptoms like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 3 Some of those post-abortion symptoms may include:
- Suicidal thoughts
Contact us for a referral to a licensed counselor if you are experiencing any of the above post-abortion symptoms. It is important for your health that you not ignore any negative feelings you may have. The National Hotline for Abortion Recovery is also available to assist you via phone: 866-482-5433 or online: www.nationalhelpline.org.
For information about additional long-term health impacts of abortion, see Abortion Risks and Side Effects.
After Abortion Support
You made the decision you thought was best. But now it seems to be hurting you more than you ever thought possible and causing unexplained emotions. If abortion has left you broken, we can help you discover peace and healing. We offer a support group and study called, Forgiven and Set Free, taught by women who have had an abortion. This small group study (1 to 4 in a group) lasts 12 weeks and allows you a safe environment to freely discuss your abortion experience in a non-judgemental atmosphere. Our staff is experienced and can HELP you begin to heal emotionally after an abortion, call 704-489-0708 or visit www.beginthehealing.org.
1 Davis A, Westhoff C, De Nonno L (2000). Bleeding patterns after early abortion with mifepristone and misoprostol or manual vacuum aspiration. J Am Med Womens Assoc 55(3 Suppl):141-4; Harwood B, Meckstroth KR, Mishell Dr, Jain JK (2001). Serum beta-human chorionic gonadotropin levels and endometrial thickness after medical abortion. Contraception 63(4):255-6.
2 Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Ridder E (2006). Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. J Child Psychol Psyc 47(1):16-24.
3 Coyle CT, Coleman PK, Rue VM (2010). Inadequate preabortion counseling and decision conflict as predictors of subsequent relationship difficulties and psychological stress in men and women. Traumatology 16(1):16-30.
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