Caring for Yourself After an Abortion
Caring for yourself after an abortion is important. Staff is available 24 hours a day to answer your questions or discuss concerns.
During Business Hours:
Call 1-800-230-7526 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
If you need to speak to a clinician after the health centers are closed, call the after-hours telephone number referenced on the paperwork you received at your procedure.
Normal Side Effects
Some people do not experience any bleeding. Others may have bleeding that lasts from 2–6 weeks.
- Bleeding may be spotty, dark brown, and include clots.
- Often there is no bleeding for the first few days immediately following the abortion, then hormonal changes may cause bleeding as heavy as a period around the third or fifth day and increased cramping.
- If heavy bleeding (soaking a full-sized maxi-pad in one hour) occurs, then begin deep uterine massaging for 10 minutes, take Ibuprofen, use a heating pad, and decrease activity.
- If heavy bleeding continues for more than three hours, call us (see calling instructions above).
Discharge may be:
- Non-bloody and range from a brown to black color.
If the discharge is itchy or painful, has a bad odor, and is pus-like, call us (see calling instructions above).
- Cramping is normal and necessary for the uterus to return to its non-pregnant size.
- Cramping may by occasional, like menstrual cramps, for the first few days.
- Cramping may increase, along with bleeding and clotting, particularly around the third to fifth day.
- Cramping should be relieved by ibuprofen, heat, and rest.
Cramping may be relieved by one or more of the following:
- Take 800 mg ibuprofen with food or milk every 6 to 8 hours.
- Drink warm liquids such as tea or hot cocoa.
- Use a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen.
Abnormal Side Effects
If you have any of the following symptoms, you could be experiencing an emergency. Please call us right away (see calling instructions above).
Prolonged Heavy Bleeding
- Soaking 2 or more maxi pads in an hour for 2 hours in a row.
- Blood clots larger than a lemon.
Severe pain or cramping that medication does not help.
Chills and fever of 101° F or higher after the day of your procedure.
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours.
- Vaginal discharge that smells bad.
- Depression that won’t go away.
- Still feeling pregnant (fatigue, morning sickness, or breast/chest tenderness) more than two weeks after your procedure.
If you are experiencing any of the abnormal symptoms, please contact us right away (see calling instructions above).
People experience a variety of emotions after an abortion.
- Feelings of relief, sadness, elation, or depression are common and may be strong due to the hormonal changes that occur after an abortion. Most people find these feelings do not last very long.
- Your partner or parents may experience similar emotions. It can be helpful to discuss these emotions with your partner or parents.
- It is important have a support system to help you.
Please visit our Pregnancy Options Page or review our pregnancy options resource list for more information and resources on pre/post-abortion support.
If you have questions about how you or your partner are feeling, please call us at 1-800-230-7526.
Doxycycline, Azithromycin and Flagyl are antibiotics to help prevent infections. Take this medication exactly as written on your prescription bottle.
Methergine/Ergotamine help to shrink the uterus to its normal size. Take one tablet every 8 hours. Take Methergine/Ergotamine until gone.
Ibuprofen is for pain and cramping. Take one 800 mg tablet every 8 hours with food or milk. Take only as needed.
Other Medications: Please call your pharmacist if you have questions about other medications you may be taking or wish to take, whether prescriptive or over-the-counter.
Infection in the uterus and fallopian tubes is the most common complication following an abortion. Signs of infection are:
- Fever above 101° F.
- Abdominal pain different than cramping.
- Foul-smelling discharge.
What to do
- If feeling feverish, take your temperature twice daily for 48 hours. Call the nurse if it is 101° F or higher for more than 12 hours.
- Take the antibiotic prescribed by Planned Parenthood until gone.
- Do not have sex for 1 week.
- For surgical/in-clinic abortions, do not use tampons for 1 week. (After a medical abortion/abortion pill, it is OK to use tampons immediately.)
- Do not douche for 1 week. (For more information on why douching is not recommended, please visit Ask the Experts at Planned Parenthood .)
- Do not use perfumes, bubbles, or oils in bath water.
Menstrual Cycle, Pregnancy & Birth Control
Immediately after your abortion, your body will begin to prepare for your next menstrual cycle. It is important to know that you can become pregnant at any time before your next period if you have unprotected intercourse. Please take this opportunity to discuss birth control with your partner. Your partner shares in the responsibility to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
- Depending on your normal cycle lengths, your first period with likely begin 4–6 weeks after the abortion.
- If you have chosen the birth control pill as your method of birth control, you will receive a packet to begin the Sunday following your abortion. Read the fact sheet provided for further information about taking the pill.
- We also have information on permanent birth control (vasectomy or tubal ligation) available if you wish.
- If you are interested in starting on a birth control method, please contact as at 1-800-230-7526, visit your local health center, or request an appointment online.
Rest and Recovery
Most of the normal side effects can be managed by resting, though most people prefer to take it easy for a day or two after an abortion until able to return to normal activity levels. Let your body be your guide.
- Despite how well you may feel, do not exercise strenuously for the first week.
- Increased activity (such as returning to work) may cause more cramping and bleeding.
- Breast or chest tenderness and swelling may last up to 2 weeks.
- Avoid stimulation of the nipples to reduce discharge.
- It is normal to pass clots, especially when getting out of bed.
Most pregnancy symptoms begin to go away within 24 hours after the abortion, with nausea usually gone by the third day.
A follow-up exam is not routinely recommended after abortion care unless you have a concern. However, we welcome you to schedule a return visit for future comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including contraceptive counseling, cervical cancer screening, STI screening and treatment, and PrEP.