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A Woman's Right to Know

After an Abortion

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What you may expect

After an abortion, you will need to stay at the doctor's office, clinic, or hospital where the procedure was performed, so you can be checked for problems or complications. How long you will be observed will depend on the type of procedure performed and the anesthesia used during that procedure.

After you have been observed and before you go home, you may be given an antibiotic to prevent infection, and another medication to contract your uterus to reduce bleeding. Your doctor will give you instructions. Your doctor will tell you how long you must wait before having intercourse again and may discuss birth-control methods with you. You may receive a prescription for pain medication. After having an abortion, you should not drive yourself home.

It is normal for you to have some cramping and a small amount of bleeding after having any type of abortion. Your uterus contracting back to its normal size causes the cramping.

GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM, OR CALL THE CLINIC OR DOCTOR THAT PERFORMED THE ABORTION IF:

  • heavy bleeding occurs (2 or more pads/hour)
  • pain is severe or not controlled by pain medication
  • you have fever
  • you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • you have chest pain
  • you are disoriented

Most women can return to their daily activities within a day or so after a procedure. Your physician will give you information on when it is safe to return to your normal activities. It is important that you return to your doctor for a checkup two to three weeks after an abortion.

Emotional Side of an Abortion

Women may experience different emotions before and after an abortion. Women may have both positive and negative feelings after having an abortion. Some women report that these feelings go away quickly, while others say they last for a long time. These feelings may include guilt, sadness, or emptiness. Some women feel relief that the procedure is over. Other women may feel anger at having to make the choice.

Counseling or support before and after your abortion is very important. If family help and support are not available to you, it may be harder for you to deal with the feelings that appear after an abortion. Talking with a professional counselor before having an abortion can help a woman better understand her decision and the feelings she may experience after the procedure. If counseling is not available to the woman, these feelings may be more difficult to handle. Many pregnancy-resource centers offer pre- and post-abortion counseling services; these centers are listed in the resource directory.

Future Childbearing and Infertility

The risks are fewer when an abortion is done in the early weeks of pregnancy. The further along you are in your pregnancy, the greater the chance of serious complications. Some complications associated with an abortion, such as infection or a cut or torn cervix, may make it difficult or impossible to become pregnant in the future or to carry a pregnancy to term.