What To Expect After an Abortion
If so, you may have thought about each of your pregnancy options, and you’re doing your best to gather information about what it would be like to choose each one.
There is nothing easy about an unintended pregnancy or the decisions you’re facing. In this article, we’ll discuss what to expect after an abortion to provide you with clarity of that option.
Education brings you clarity.
Clarity brings you confidence.
We hope you feel empowered to make a confident decision about your unexpected pregnancy after learning more about what to expect after a medical abortion and a surgical abortion.
What Are the Different Kinds of Abortion?
Medical abortions or surgical abortions are options depending on your individual circumstances and how far along you are in your pregnancy
1. Medical abortion:
A medical abortion is a procedure that ends a pregnancy at home through medication. Although it’s also called the abortion pill, two different medicines are taken. Sometimes, people mistakenly assume that a medical abortion is “easier” than a surgical abortion. But there are difficult aspects to experiencing an abortion at home, so be sure to do your research before moving forward.
A medical abortion is performed up to eleven weeks (77 days) from the first day of your last period.
2. Vacuum aspiration abortion
A vacuum aspiration abortion ends a pregnancy with a surgical procedure rather than medication. It uses suction and instruments and is typically performed up to 14-16 weeks of pregnancy.
3. Dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion
Like a vacuum aspiration abortion, a D&E abortion is also a surgical procedure. A D&E abortion is performed if it’s been more than 16 weeks after the first day of your last period.
What to Expect During an Abortion Procedure
1. What to expect during a medical abortion
During a medical abortion, you will be given the first medication, mifepristone, at a clinic Mifepristone blocks the progesterone hormone, which disrupts the pregnancy’s attachment to the uterine lining.
You will receive instructions about when to take the second medication, misoprostol, at home. Misoprostol causes your uterus to cramp intensely to expel the pregnancy, which can take five hours to two days. The sooner you act, the more successful is this treatment.
During a medical abortion (after taking misoprostol), women experience:
Heavy vaginal bleeding
Passing blood clots
Seeing the gestational sac/fetus pass
Low-grade fever (under 40°)
2. What to expect during a surgical abortion
Vacuum aspiration and D&E abortions occur in a healthcare setting rather than at home. You can expect the following during a surgical abortion:
Pain, pinching, and pressure
Drowsiness from sedation and pain medication given to reduce pain
Vacuum aspiration abortion to take about five minutes
D&E abortion to last about twenty minutes
What To Expect After an Abortion
Regardless of the kind of abortion a woman has, she needs to take time to rest and heal — physically and emotionally afterward.
Typical things to expect after an abortion include
It’s critical to rest for at least a couple of days. Recovery typically takes the longest after a D&E abortion.
Some women experience bleeding on and off for up to six weeks after an abortion. Bleeding tends to increase and become redder in color after activity.
You can expect to pass blood clots and for bleeding to be heavier after a medical abortion.
You may have cramping for up to two to three weeks after an abortion. Women can usually ease cramping discomfort with ibuprofen or heating pads.
Nausea and vomiting
Pregnancy signs, including nausea, vomiting may last for about three days. It’s important to stay as hydrated as you can.
Your breasts may swell, be tender, and/or leak a milky fluid after an abortion. Breast symptoms should start to go away in 7-10 days. A supportive bra, ice packs, and ibuprofen can all help your comfort level.
You can ovulate and become pregnant as soon as two weeks after an abortion, even if you’re still bleeding.
Your next period
You can expect your next period to return about 4-8 weeks after an abortion.
A sudden shift in hormones after an abortion can be rough. Women experience a range of emotions after an abortion, from relief to weepiness to regret. Services are available to help you process your feelings after an abortion.
There are risks to having an abortion, and problems do occur sometimes. Risks can include:
Infection, which can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease or life-threatening septic shock
Perforation of the uterus
Failed abortion where parts of the baby are left in the uterus
Post-abortion complications can be severe if they aren’t treated quick. Untreated abortion complications can lead to scarring, future inability to get pregnant when you are ready, future ectopic pregnancies (outside of the uterus), a lifetime of chronic pain, increased risk of cancer, and more.
Protect your reproductive health by contacting your healthcare provider to assess you immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Blood clots that are larger than a lemon
Fever over 39°
Heavy bleeding (soaking more than two pads an hour for two hours)
Severe abdominal pain not relieved by Tylenol or Ibuprofen
Strong-smelling vaginal discharge
Some women and men struggle with long term effects from their abortion. Many people don’t realize that an abortion creates strong feelings of both physical and psychological distress. Every person reacts to and recovers from these emotions in different ways, and some may need help and guidance along the path to healing. Abortion can leave you feeling vulnerable, alone, and helpless.
Take the brave step
You’re worth it.
 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2018, April). Abortion care. ACOG. Retrieved on July 27, 2021 from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/induced-abortion.
 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, May 14). Medical abortion. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on July 27, 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/medical-abortion/about/pac-20394687.
 UCSF Health. (2021, June 22). FAQ: Post-Abortion care and recovery. ucsfhealth.org. Retrieved on July 28, 2021 from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/faq-post-abortion-care-and-recovery#3.