Medical Abortion Care - Topic Overview
Care after a medical abortion
Carefully follow all of your doctor's instructions and review what-to-expect information after a medical abortion.
Follow these instructions:
- Most women can return to normal activities in 1 to 2 days after the uterus has cleared. Avoid strenuous exercise for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Do not have sexual intercourse for 1 to 2 weeks or as advised by your doctor.
- Be sure to use birth control when you start having sex again. And use condoms to prevent infection. For more information, see the topic Birth Control.
Do not rinse the vagina with fluids (douche). This could increase your risk of infections that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Normal symptoms that most women will experience after a medical abortion include:
- Bleeding or spotting for up to 14 days. Bleeding may last longer for pregnancies of more than 7 weeks.
- Cramping for the first 2 weeks. Some women may have cramping (like menstrual cramps) for as long as 6 weeks.
- Emotional reactions for 2 to 3 weeks, often influenced by changes in pregnancy hormones. It's normal to feel one or more emotions such as relief, guilt, sadness, and/or grief.
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 sanitary 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