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

Signs of complications

Less than 1 out of 100 women who have an abortion have serious problems afterward.2

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms after an abortion:

  • Severe bleeding. Both medical and surgical abortions usually cause bleeding that is different from a normal menstrual period. Severe bleeding can mean:
    • Passing clots that are bigger than a golf ball, lasting 2 or more hours.
    • Soaking more than 2 large pads in an hour, for 2 hours in a row.
    • Bleeding heavily for 12 hours in a row.
  • Signs of infection in your whole body, such as headache, muscle aches, dizziness, or a general feeling of illness. Severe infection is possible without fever.
  • Severe pain in the belly that is not relieved by pain medicine, rest, or heat
  • Hot flushes or a fever of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or higher that lasts longer than 4 hours
  • Vomiting lasting more than 4 to 6 hours
  • Sudden belly swelling or rapid heart rate
  • Vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad
  • Pain, swelling, or redness in the genital area

Call your doctor for an appointment if you have had any of these symptoms after a recent abortion:

  • Bleeding (not spotting) for longer than 2 weeks
  • New, unexplained symptoms that may be caused by medicines used in your treatment
  • No menstrual period within 6 weeks after the procedure
  • Signs and symptoms of depression. Hormonal changes after a pregnancy can cause depression that requires treatment.

Your ability to become pregnant in the future

Medical abortion and vacuum aspiration do not affect your ability to become pregnant in the future.1 It is possible to become pregnant in the weeks right after an abortion procedure.

  • Avoid sexual intercourse until your body has fully recovered, for at least 1 to 3 weeks.
  • To prevent infection and pregnancy, it is important to use condoms as directed by your doctor when you start to have intercourse again. This is a good time to also start a highly effective birth control method that fits your lifestyle. For more information, see the topic Birth Control.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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