After Abortion

We inform, you decide.

What to Expect

Taking Care of Yourself

When to Get Help

After the Abortion

Many women have concerns regarding their physical and emotional health following an abortion. It is important to understand what symptoms to expect and how to take care of yourself to help alleviate the physical and emotional impacts of an abortion.

Taking Care of Yourself

  • Drink water and other 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.

Emotional Effects

Research suggests that women who have had abortions are at increased risk for mental health problems.5 Some women who have experienced an abortion report symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.6

Some of those symptoms may include:

  • Regret
  • Grief
  • Sadness/Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt/Shame
  • Suicidal thoughts

Contact a licensed counselor if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.

It is important for your health that you not ignore any negative feelings you may have. Your area pregnancy resource center may be able to provide a professional referral, or you may contact the International Helpline for Abortion Recovery via phone: 866-482-5433 or online: internationalhelpline.org.

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

Physical Effects

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
  • Cramping
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea/Vomiting

These symptoms typically resolve within a week, sometimes longer. If symptoms persist or become severe, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.

Reproductive Health Effects

Breast Cancer.

Abortion may have increased your risk of breast cancer.2 Consult your doctor to request more frequent screenings.

Sexual Dysfunction.

Some women experience sexual dysfunction after an abortion.3 Tell your doctor if you experience any of the following normal symptoms:

  • Increased vaginal dryness
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Loss of orgasm ability
  • Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)

Preterm Delivery.

Abortion may cause cervical incompetence, leading to a higher risk of preterm delivery.4 Talk to your doctor about ways to reduce this risk if you plan to give birth in the future.

Sources

  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):141-144. Harwood, B., Meckstroth, K.R., Mishell, Dr., Jain, J.K., (2001). Serum beta-human chorionic gonadotropin levels and endometrial thickness after medical abortion. Contraception; 63(4):255-256.
  2. Huang, Y., et al., (2014). A meta-analysis of the association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females. Cancer Causes Control; 25(2): 227-36.
  3. Bianchi-Demicheli, F., Perrin, E., Ludicke, F., Bianchi, P.G., Chatton, D., Campana, A., (2002). Termination of pregnancy and women’s sexuality. Gynecol Obstet Invest; 53(1): 48-53.Fok, W.Y., Siu, S.N., Lau, T.K., (2005). Sexual dysfunction after a first trimester induced abortion in a Chinese population. Eur. J. Obstet. Gyn. R. B.; 126(2): 255-258.
  4. Saccone, G., et al., (2016) Prior uterine evacuation of pregnancy as independent risk factor for preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Obstetr Gynecol; 214(5): 572-591.
  5. Coleman, P.K., (2011). Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research. Br J Psychiat; 199(3): 180–186
  6. Coyle, C.T., Coleman, P.K., Rue, V.M., (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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