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.