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How to Care for Yourself After an Abortion (PDF version)

What You May Experience

Bleeding may vary from a few days of spotting to a few weeks of moderate flow. Some women do not bleed at all. Also, it is not unusual to stop bleeding and then begin again. Often, 48-72 hours after the abortion, there is a hormonal shift that may “suddenly” cause cramping, bleeding and clots. This can be normal.

Cramping may feel similar to menstrual cramps, and may stop and start depending on your activity level. You can take up to 800mg of Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) every 6-8 hours. This dosage should be decreased as soon as the cramping decreases. Do NOT take aspirin. You can perform uterine massage to help your uterus contract and to slow any bleeding. To do this, push down as hard as you can above your pubic bone while sitting on the toilet. You may notice that you pass clots as you are doing this. That is normal. Keep in mind that the water will make the clots appear larger. You may wish to use a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen to relieve discomfort. Lying down and elevating your feet can also help relieve cramping.

Small blood clots are normal to pass and are not a problem unless you also have a fever above 100.5 F or severe cramping.

Emotions may be strong from the hormonal changes and are considered normal. It may help to talk with a close friend or family member. Click here for a list of supportive resources.

Pregnancy symptoms such as nausea usually decrease in two days. Other symptoms should be gone in 1-2 weeks.

Breast tenderness is normal for up to two weeks following an abortion. It is very important that you do not stimulate your breasts at all. Do not sleep on your stomach, let water hit them in the shower, squeeze the nipples, etc. You may apply ice to decrease the swelling: 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off.

Menstrual period: your next period will start anywhere from 4-8 weeks from the date of your abortion, and it may be different than usual (heavier, lighter, longer, shorter, etc.).

Please call Aradia Women's Health Center if you have:

  • Heavy, persistent bleeding - soaking through a pad an hour for three hours in a row.
  • Unusually severe cramping, where you are doubled over in pain.
  • Passing large blood clots - walnut or golf-ball in size.
  • Bad smelling vaginal discharge.
  • Fever of 100.5° F or more.
  • Continued symptoms of pregnancy after two weeks

Call us during our office hours at 206-323-9388. If you have a medical emergency when Aradia is closed (after hours or weekends) call 206-726-2632.

Do... Do NOT...
-Use pads and change them often to keep harmful bacteria from growing on the pad.

-Rest often, especially during the first 48 hours, to give your body time to begin healing.

-Finish taking the full course of prescribed antibiotics.

-Monitor your temperature and bleeding. Take your temperature twice a day for one full week following the abortion.

-Call the clinic if any unusual symptoms develop or if you have any questions.

-Return to the clinic if you are experiencing any problems.  A follow-up appointment is included in your fee.

-Put anything in your vagina for three weeks after your abortion. It is very important to keep bacteria out of the vagina and uterus in order to avoid infection. This includes tampons, vaginal intercourse, douching, baths, swimming and hot-tubbing. You may take showers or stand in the tub to wash down.

-Engage in any strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for two weeks. Strenuous activities (including being on your feet a lot or walking long distances) may cause heavier bleeding and cramping.

-Take aspirin, drink alcohol or smoke marijuana for three weeks. These blood thinners and muscle relaxants may cause heavier bleeding.

 

Birth Control

It is easily possible to become pregnant immediately following an abortion and before your next period. Plan to have a contraceptive method to use. Remember, you should not have vaginal intercourse for three weeks after the abortion in order to prevent infection.

If you plan to use birth control pills for contraception you should begin taking them the first Sunday after the abortion, whether or not you are still bleeding. Remember that they will not protect you from pregnancy during the entire first cycle, and they do not protect against sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and HIV.

Aradia provides birth control. You may be eligible for FREE birth control. Schedule an appointment today.

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