Surgical Abortion Care - Topic Overview
Care before a surgical abortion
Before a surgical
abortion, your doctor will:
- Evaluate your past health, including any
medicines you are taking.
- Do a physical exam, including a
pelvic examination, to evaluate your health, how long
you have been pregnant, and the location and health of the embryo or
- Perform an
ultrasound to confirm how far along and where the
pregnancy is. Not all doctors choose to do this step.
- Discuss your
decision to have an abortion and your feelings about the
- Discuss your plans for future pregnancies and birth
- Explain the procedure, possible problems, and when to
call your doctor.
Care immediately after a surgical abortion
surgical abortion procedure, your doctor will check to make sure:
Medicines that may be given after a surgical abortion
- Antibiotics, to prevent
- Medicines that cause uterine contractions (uterotonic),
to empty the uterus completely and reduce bleeding.
- Rh immunoglobulin, which is given to all women who have Rh-negative blood type to
Rh sensitization after the procedure.
medicine, for cramping pain caused by uterine
- Medicine to treat nausea or vomiting.
Care at home after a surgical abortion
follow all of your doctor's instructions and review what-to-expect information
after a surgical abortion. Follow these instructions:
- Most women can return to normal activities in 1
to 2 days after the procedure. Avoid strenuous exercise for about 1
- Do not have sexual intercourse for at least 1 week, or
longer, as advised by your doctor.
- When you start having
intercourse again, use birth control, and use condoms to prevent infection. For more information, see
- 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 surgical abortion include:
- Irregular bleeding or spotting for the first 2
- 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.
Signs of complications
Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms after an
- 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
- 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
- Sudden belly swelling or rapid heart
- Vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells
- 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
- Bleeding (not spotting) for longer than 2
- New, unexplained symptoms that may be caused by medicines
used in your treatment
- No menstrual period within 6 weeks after the
- Signs and symptoms of
depression. Hormonal changes after a pregnancy can
cause depression that requires treatment.