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 fetus.
- 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 decision.
- Discuss your plans for future pregnancies and birth control use.
- Explain the procedure, possible problems, and when to call your doctor.
Care immediately after a surgical abortion
After a surgical abortion procedure, your doctor will check to make sure:
Medicines that may be given after a surgical abortion include:
- Antibiotics, to prevent infection.
- 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 prevent Rh sensitization after the procedure.
- Pain medicine, for cramping pain caused by uterine contractions.
- Medicine to treat nausea or vomiting.
Care at home after a surgical abortion
Carefully 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 week.
- 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 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 surgical abortion include:
- Irregular bleeding or spotting for the first 2 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.