Although LifeTalk Resource Center doesn’t perform or refer for abortions, we do provide resources to better understand what you may experience following an abortion – so that in the event you or someone you know has an abortion, you’ll know what is considered normal response and abnormal response. Regardless of the type of abortion procedure you undergo, the post abortion care will be similar except for some small differences. In any type of procedure, if your blood type is Rh negative, you will be given Rhogam (Rh immunoglobulin) to prevent sensitization after the procedure so that you don’t manufacture antibodies that may affect future pregnancies. In addition your healthcare provider will provide you with home instructions which will educate you on how to care for yourself and will also offer guidance on when you need to call your health care provider.
Pain: After either type of abortion, it is normal to experience cramping pain similar to a period or slightly stronger. Most likely, you will be advised to take ibuprofen, and you may use a heating pad for comfort. Do not take aspirin as this can increase bleeding. Tylenol can also be used if you are allergic to ibuprofen, however, it may not be as effective. If pain should increase in severity or not be relieved by ibuprofen, it is recommended then that you contact your provider.
Bleeding: You will also have vaginal bleeding which can last up to two weeks. It is usually most heavy within the first few hours after the abortion. It may be accompanied by clots. For the first 24 hours afterward you should provide yourself with rest periods, otherwise, if you are on your feet a lot you may notice an increase in bleeding as well as clotting. If you should bleed such that you are using more than 2 pads per hour for more than 2 hours, or you are passing clots larger than the size of a golf ball, you will need to contact your provider.
Infection: To avoid any infection and risk of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), you will be advised against having sexual intercourse until cleared by your doctor or for at least 2 weeks after the abortion. Similarly, you cannot use tampons, (only sanitary pads), as well as no douching, no tub baths (showers only), and no swimming. If you underwent a surgical abortion, you will be given antibiotics to take after the procedure and for a few days afterward. Oftentimes it is common to run a low grade temperature for the first day. If you continue to run a fever or if it rises to above 100.4, or if you have foul smelling vaginal discharge, you need to contact your provider, who would want to check you for infection.
Follow up appointment: You should plan on seeing your healthcare provider/physician about 2-3 weeks post procedure. For medical abortion patients, this will be done to make sure the abortion is completed, and for surgical patients, to ensure no complications have developed post-operatively.
Emotions: You may be feeling very emotional, sad or depressed. Hormonal changes can magnify these effects. If they persist or worsen, it is recommended you contact your provider and consider seeking post abortion counseling, your health care provider can discuss this with you in further detail.
Menstrual period: Most likely your periods will restart within 4-8 weeks after the procedure. Please be aware that if you choose to be sexually active, (remember you need your physician clearance first) it is possible to get pregnant soon after an abortion.
Other concerns: Should any other problems or issues arise that are not covered here, it is recommended that you contact your provider for further direction and information. If your symptoms worsen and you cannot reach your provider, then it is recommended that you go to the nearest Emergency Room.
Easing The After-Affects Of Abortion
It is common for those who have gone through an abortion to experience thoughts and emotions that are difficult to process. These uneasy feelings can linger for months and even years. They may come on immediately or suddenly hit you weeks after the procedure. For many, these troubling emotions resurface at various times throughout life and never go away entirely.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by any of the post-abortion symptoms below, please feel free to call us or make an appointment with LifeTalk. Whether you’d just like to talk to a sympathetic caregiver or join a Post-Abortion Support Group, we will walk beside you during this trying time.
Possible symptoms of post-abortion trauma:
- Bouts of crying
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Avoiding intimate relationships
- Engaging in unhealthy relationships
LifeTalk Resource Center also recommends the program Abortion Changes You. abortionchangesyou.com is a confidential space that serves as a refuge for those who wish to begin the process of healing. This process includes building support, exploring emotions and identifying loss. These pathways are a starting point for reflection and healing regarding the personal impact of abortion. Each person will go through the process differently. We encourage you to explore the site.