Almost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. With the unplanned pregnancy rate so high, it’s no surprise that an estimated one in four women will have an abortion by the time they’re 45 years old.
When you find out you’re pregnant and you weren’t expecting it, you might experience any number of emotions. And if you decide that an abortion is right for you, it’s common to be concerned about what happens next.
Having an abortion is a big decision, and caring for yourself following the procedure is just as important. Learn more about what to expect after an aborting and how to prioritize self-care during recovery here.
Follow the doctor’s instructions
Whether a medical or surgical abortion is right for you, our team will give you instructions for recovery following treatment. Abortion is a safe procedure, but your risk for infection is higher than usual until your cervix closes.
We often prescribe antibiotic medication to help prevent infection. Other prescriptions may include a drug that helps shrink the uterus back to its normal size. Always follow the guidelines on your prescription bottle and only take the recommended doses.
To further reduce your risk of complications, avoid using tampons for about one month following an abortion. Instead, use sanitary pads to absorb any bleeding or discharge and change them every four hours.
It’s possible to become pregnant very soon after an abortion. To prevent pregnancy, you’ll need to start using certain types of birth control before you return to having sex. Talk to our team to learn more about what type of contraception is right for you.
Know what symptoms are normal
Many women experience bleeding and cramping in the first few days after an abortion. This is normal as your uterus returns to its prepregnancy size. Light bleeding or spotting can last for up to six weeks, but some women don’t experience any bleeding at all.
After an abortion, your hormones need time to stabilize at their prepregnancy level. You might have mood swings and breast tenderness, but these symptoms generally subside within a few days.
Call the doctor or seek prompt medical care if you experience:
- A low-grade temp that persists for more than 12 hours or a fever above 101 please call, this may be a sign of infection
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal discharge with foul odor or pus
- Shortness of breath
- Intense abdominal pain
These symptoms could be a sign of infection and aren’t normal for women recovering from an abortion procedure.
Rest if you need to
The physical and emotional changes that an abortion can trigger might leave you feeling drained. Don’t be afraid to take it easy for a few days and give your body time to return to normal.
If you have painful abdominal cramping, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen can minimize discomfort, as can applying a warm heating pad to your abdomen or taking a warm bath. Gently massaging your stomach may reduce pain and also help you pass uterine tissue.
It’s a good idea to avoid strenuous activity, including intense exercise like running, for up to a week after your procedure. We also recommend abstaining from penetrative sex or putting anything in your vagina for 2-3 weeks to help prevent infection.
Acknowledge your feelings
Between the decision to terminate a pregnancy and the hormonal changes that occur after an abortion, it’s common to feel a range of emotions. Many women feel relieved, but other emotions can include a sense of loss or even guilt.
Whatever you feel, know that your emotions are okay. Even if you know that choosing to terminate a pregnancy is the right decision, feeling sad doesn’t mean you’ve made the wrong choice. Give yourself permission to work through your emotions, and don’t be afraid to reach out for the support of friends and family.
Be sure to go to your follow-up appointments after getting an abortion. This is an important time for us to assess your health and make sure that your body is recovering properly. If you have any questions about your physical or emotional well-being, you can ask at your next appointment or call us at any time.
If you find yourself faced with an unplanned pregnancy, turn to our caring, capable team. We’re here to help you make the right decision. Call our office or send our team a message today.