Abortion - surgical - aftercare
Termination - aftercare
You have had a surgical abortion. This is a procedure that ends pregnancy by removing the fetus and placenta from your womb (uterus).
What to Expect at Home
These procedures are very safe and low risk. You will likely recover without problems. It may take a few days to feel well.
You may have cramps that feel like menstrual cramps for a few days to 2 weeks. You may have light vaginal bleeding or spotting for up to 4 weeks.
Your normal period will likely return in 4 to 6 weeks.
It is normal to feel sad or depressed after this procedure. Seek help from your health care provider or a counselor if these feelings do not go away. A family member or friend can also provide comfort.
To relieve discomfort or pain in your abdomen:
- Apply a heating pad to your lower abdomen or place a hot water bottle filled with warm water on your abdomen.
- Take over-the-counter painkillers as instructed.
Follow these activity guidelines after your procedure:
- Rest as needed.
- Do not do any strenuous activity the first few days. This includes not lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds or 4.5 kilograms (about the weight of a 1-gallon or 4 liters milk jug).
- Also, do not do any strenuous aerobic activity, including running or working out. Light housework is fine.
- Use pads to absorb bleeding and drainage from your vagina. Change the pads every 2 to 4 hours to avoid infection.
- Do not use tampons or put anything in your vagina, including douching for 1 week.
- Do not have vaginal intercourse for 2 to 3 weeks, or until cleared by your health care provider.
- Take any other medicine, such as an antibiotic, as instructed.
- Begin using birth control right after your procedure. It is possible to get pregnant again even before your normal period resumes. Birth control can help prevent unplanned pregnancies. Be aware though, unplanned pregnancies can occur even when you use birth control.
- Do not take a bath or swim for 1 week unless your provider tells you it is OK. Showering is OK.
When to Call the Doctor
Contact your provider if:
- You have vaginal bleeding that increases or you need to change your pads more often than every hour.
- You feel lightheaded or dizzy.
- You have chest pain or shortness of breath.
- You have swelling or pain in one leg.
- You have continued pain or pregnancy symptoms beyond 2 weeks.
- You have signs of infection, including fever that does not go away, vaginal drainage with a foul odor, vaginal drainage that looks like pus, or pain or tenderness in your abdomen.
Mullins EWS, Regan L. Women's health. In: Feather A, Randall D, Waterhouse M, eds. Kumar and Clarke's Clinical Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 39.
Rivlin K, Davis AR. Contraception and abortion. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 13.
Simpson JA, Owen P. Abortion. In: Layden EA, Thomson A, Owen P, Madhra M, Magowan BA, eds. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. 5th ed. Elsevier; 2023:chap 20.
Last reviewed on: 1/1/2023
Reviewed by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.