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Abortion - Before, During, and After an Abortion: When to Call a Doctor

If you think you may be pregnant, see a doctor for a pregnancy test, examination, and pregnancy counseling as soon as possible. If you are considering ending the pregnancy, this is an important time for learning as much as you can about your options. The earlier you take measures to end a pregnancy, the more medical choices you are likely to have and the less your risk of complications will be.

Who to see

Surgical abortions are minor surgeries that require a health professional with specialized training. If a medical abortion is not successful, a surgical abortion must be done as follow-up. This is necessary to prevent infection and blood loss and to end the pregnancy, because medical abortion medicines cause birth defects. The following health professionals can perform abortions:

Some health professionals offer medical abortion only and recommend another health professional if a vacuum aspiration becomes necessary. Other health professionals offer medical abortion and manual vacuum extraction (MVA) if needed. MVA is a simple and effective procedure. Fewer health professionals offer medical, MVA, and surgical abortion services.

Your health professional will give you information about what to expect after an abortion. Normal symptoms that most women experience include:

  • Irregular bleeding or spotting for as long as the first 3 weeks.
  • Cramping for the first 2 weeks. Some women have cramping (like menstrual cramps) for as long as 6 weeks.
  • Emotional reactions for 2 to 3 weeks.

The hospital or surgery center may send you instructions on how to get ready for your surgery. Or a nurse may call you with instructions before your surgery.

Right after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where nurses will care for and observe you. You will probably stay in the recovery area for a period of time and then you will go home. In addition to any special instructions from your doctor, your nurse will explain information to help you in your recovery. You will go home with a page of care instructions including who to contact if a problem arises.

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