What to expect after an abortion
Recovery time after an abortion will be different for everyone, but you'll usually feel better within a few days.
Information and advice for after your abortion
Your abortion provider will give you instructions about how to care for yourself during and after the abortion and how to access care if you have any issues. If you are having issues, contact your abortion provider for advice about what to do.
As a general guide:
- Bleeding like a period, light or spotting, stop/start for up to two weeks.
- Mild to strong cramps (relieved with regular pain relief).
- (For medical abortion) passing a few large blood clots, for up to 10 days.
- Pregnancy symptoms, breast tenderness, nausea and fatigue, will disappear within a week or two.
- Next monthly period in four to six weeks.
- Very heavy bleeding, soaking two full-sized sanitary pads an hour for two hours in a row or passing lots of large clots, or a clot the size of your fist.
- Uncontrollable or constant pain.
- Pain in your shoulder tip.
- Vomiting after taking medications.
- Fever or feeling unwell.
- Smelly vaginal discharge.
- Prolonged bleeding, more than three weeks.
Contact your abortion provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
At the clinic (for surgical and later medical abortions)
- You will rest in a recovery room usually for around half an hour.
- You will not be safe to drive a car for 24 hours following the abortion
- Rarely, you may need to stay in hospital overnight for later abortion procedures.
Returning home / at home
- You should relax for the rest of the day after the abortion but you can usually return to work, study or other normal activities the next day after the abortion.
- Problems after an abortion are rare. The most likely risk is infection in the two weeks after your abortion. You can lower infection risk by:
- having showers rather than baths
- using sanitary pads rather than tampons or menstrual cups
- avoiding swimming and spa pools.
- Infections are easy to treat with antibiotics. But, left untreated, they can cause health problems. Rare problems can include bleeding too much (haemorrhaging), damage to the cervix and uterus. Again, the risk of complications is very low.
- Avoid having sex for at least two weeks after the abortion. If you do, use a condom, with lube, to protect yourself from infection.
- Avoid travel within 24 hours of an abortion. If you must travel, make sure you know how to access emergency services at your destination.
What about contraception?
You can get pregnant very soon after an abortion so if you don't want to get pregnant, start contraception straight away or as recommended by the nurse or doctor.
- For oral contraception (the Pill), it is recommended that you start the day after the abortion.
- For other forms of contraception, such as long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) (Depo Provera, IUD, Implant), this should be in place before you start having sex.
- If you are having an abortion at a clinic and want long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), discuss this with your abortion provider. This can be done at the same time as your procedure.
What about emotional side effects?
- Everyone has different feelings after an abortion. Often people feel relief. Even if you are relieved, you could experience strong emotions afterwards. You might feel anger, freedom, regret, guilt, or sadness. These feelings may come and go. Or you may hardly think about it again.
- If you feel you need support before or after your abortion, you can ask for counselling through your abortion provider.
For post-abortion care, contact your abortion provider.
If you need immediate help, go to your local Hospital Emergency Department or call 111 and ask for an ambulance.