Most patients have an easy and uneventful recovery after their abortions. Occasionally there are problems that need further treatment or care.

Call Preterm if you have…

  • Severe cramping or pain that is unrelieved by pain medication.
  • Fever over 100.4°F (38°C) for more than one reading.
  • Prolonged, excessive bleeding (soaking through two pads an hour or passing numerous clots larger than a 50-cent piece).

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After Your Abortion

Your body will go through changes due to a dramatic drop in the hormones of pregnancy, but you should begin to feel normal within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Any nausea, vomiting, or fatigue you may have experienced should go away within 24 hours. You may feel bloated for a few days. Feel free to eat whatever you want, but don’t overdo it if you’ve had nausea and vomiting.

You can return to work or school as soon as you feel well enough. Preterm can provide a medical excuse for the first 3 to 5 days.

Most women will have a period within 4 to 6 weeks. Please be aware that if you’re not using birth control, you could become pregnant again even before your next period begins.

Here are some other effects you might experience:

Cramping — You may have mild to moderate cramping the first 2-3 weeks after the abortion. Ibuprofen or Tylenol, a heating pad, and rest will usually control the discomfort. If cramps become severe, call Preterm.

Bleeding — Your bleeding pattern will depend on many factors, including the number of previous pregnancies, healing rate, and bleeding tendencies. Also, drinking alcohol will increase the bleeding.

You may not bleed at all after you leave Preterm or you may have a gradual decrease in bleeding, perhaps with small clots, for up to four weeks. You may bleed for several hours or for several days, stop bleeding, and then start again after a few days or a week. Don’t be concerned about changes in the color of the blood. Pay attention to the total amount of blood loss and clots.

If you soak through two or more pads in an hour or have several clots larger than a 50-cent piece, call Preterm but do not panic. (You can use this chart to help you judge how much you are bleeding. Opens as a PDF).

Breast Soreness — Your breasts may feel more tender during the first week. Occasionally, there is breast fullness about the third day after an abortion. You may even have some milk, which usually subsides within a week. Wear a tight-fitting bra and, if necessary, place absorbent material inside it to protect your clothing. Ice bags can also be helpful. Take Ibuprofen or Tylenol to relieve the discomfort.

Important Things to Do

Take your temperature every morning and evening for 3 days. If your temperature is over 100.4°F (38°C) for more than two readings, call Preterm immediately. Fever is almost always the first sign of an infection and is often accompanied by tenderness in the lower abdomen.

Take your antibiotics as directed. This will help you avoid infection.

Take Ibuprofen or Tylenol (but not aspirin) if you’re having cramps.

Keep your follow-up appointment. It’s very important that you have an exam 14 days after a medication abortion or 3 weeks after a surgical abortion, to make sure the abortion was complete and your body is healing normally. Take a urine sample to your appointment. You can have your follow-up with Preterm free of charge or with your own doctor or clinic.

Call Preterm if you have any problems or want to talk with a patient advocate.

Important Things NOT to Do

Don’t insert anything into your vagina, including tampons or a douche, until after your follow-up exam. This can cause infection. (Many doctors feel that women shouldn’t douche at any time.)

Don’t sit in any water—bath, hot tub, or swimming pool—for one week. The bacteria in the water can cause infection. Take showers instead of baths. You may wash your hair anytime you want.

Don’t lift any heavy objects or do any heavy exercising for one week. Strenuous activities will increase your bleeding or cramping.

Don’t have sex until after your follow-up exam. Sex can cause bleeding, cramping, and infection. Also, you could become pregnant even before your next period begins.

Preventing Another Pregnancy

Use your contraceptive as directed. The best contraceptive methods available cannot prevent pregnancy if they’re not used each time and correctly.

Keep emergency contraception on hand if you’ve had intercourse and didn’t use birth control or your birth control failed. Emergency contraception, or EC, can help prevent pregnancy when used within 5 days of having unprotected sex. The sooner you use it, the more effective it is. EC is available at Preterm. See the EC page for more info.

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