When you’re preparing for what to expect after an abortion, it’s important to know how the procedure will affect you. What after-abortion symptoms will you experience? How do you know if your abortion symptoms are normal?

In this article, we’ve outlined some of the most common symptoms of abortion, as well as some abnormal symptoms to look out for. Remember that this article should not be construed as medical advice; it’s important to talk to your doctor for more information about the physical effects of abortion.

Bleeding After Abortion

Bleeding is one of the most common symptoms after abortion. The amount and duration of the bleeding can vary from one woman to the next, but most of the time, this bleeding is perfectly normal. However, if you have concerns about heavy bleeding after an abortion, you should contact your abortion provider right away.

Here are some of the common questions women have about after-abortion bleeding:

Will I experience bleeding after surgical abortion?

Many women experience light bleeding after a surgical abortion, which may continue for around two weeks. However, it’s also possible to experience no bleeding after surgical abortion, and that can be completely normal as well.

It’s important to contact your doctor if you have any questions about your bleeding patterns and to schedule a follow-up visit to ensure the procedure was successful and you are healing properly.

Will I experience bleeding after medical abortion?

After you take the pills necessary to induce a medical abortion, you will likely start bleeding within about four hours, though it can sometimes start later. Bleeding after abortion pill is usually the first sign that the abortion has begun. You may experience heavy bleeding and cramping until the abortion is complete.

Generally, the heaviest bleeding will occur within the first 2–5 hours of taking the medication and last for about for 3–5 hours, usually slowing down within 24 hours. However, some women bleed and pass clots days or even weeks after a medical abortion. If you are experiencing very heavy abortion pill bleeding (soaking through more than two pads per hour for two hours or more), you should contact your doctor right away.

How long do you bleed after an abortion?

Every woman is different, and how long you bleed after abortion will depend on your body and the type of abortion you have. Generally, though, it is normal to experience some bleeding for about two weeks after your abortion.

Is it normal to pass blood clots after abortion?

After an abortion, women may pass blood clots from the size of a pebble to the size of an egg. However, larger, lemon- or golf-ball-sized blood clots could be a sign of a complication.

Is it normal to experience no bleeding after abortion?

It is possible to experience very little or no bleeding after abortion, especially with surgical abortion. However, if you experience no bleeding 24 hours after taking the abortion pill, or if you are still experiencing pregnancy symptoms, you should contact your doctor to ensure the abortion was successful.

Whether you have a surgical or medical abortion, it’s important to schedule a follow-up visit with the clinic to ensure the abortion is complete and your body is recovering properly.

What if I experience heavy bleeding after abortion?

Excessive bleeding after an abortion can be dangerous. You should call your abortion provider right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Soaking two maxi pads per hour for two consecutive hours
  • Passing blood clots larger than the size of a lemon
  • Lightheadedness or other symptoms of blood loss

These post-abortion symptoms can be a sign of hemorrhaging, internal injury or another rare but serious complication.

How long after an abortion do you get your period?

It can take 4–8 weeks for you to get your period after abortion. The exact timing will vary from one woman to the next and may depend on how far along the pregnancy was.

The first period after medical abortion tends to be heavier and last longer than usual, while the first period after surgical abortion may be somewhat lighter and shorter. If you experience a heavy period after surgical abortion, you should contact your doctor right away; this is not typical.

Some women experience irregular periods after abortion for the first couple months while pregnancy hormones remain in their system. Your abortion provider will talk to you in more detail about what to expect from your first period after abortion.

Pregnancy and abortion cause hormonal changes in your body, so in general, it’s okay if it takes some time for you to resume your normal menstrual cycle after abortion. But if you still have no period after abortion for eight weeks or more, talk to your doctor. A missing or irregular period after abortion could indicate that the abortion was not complete or that you have since become pregnant again.

How to Stop Bleeding After Abortion

Most of the time, bleeding or spotting after abortion is a perfectly normal and even necessary part of the process. While there is no way to prevent or stop post-abortion bleeding, there are things you can do to make yourself more comfortable and reduce the risk of complications:

  • Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for a couple weeks after your abortion.
  • Use pads instead of tampons during your recovery from abortion.
  • Avoid vaginal intercourse until you are completely healed.
  • Follow all the abortion after-care instructions provided by your doctor.

Cramping After Abortion

It is common for women to experience abdominal cramps after abortion as the uterus returns to its normal, non-pregnant size. These may be similar to menstrual cramps, though they can sometimes be more intense. Many women also experience cramp-like leg and lower back pain after abortion; this is normal. You may be able to ease the discomfort of cramping after abortion using:

  • Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or Tylenol (if your doctor says it’s okay)
  • A heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Uterine massage

Cramping after abortion is common for the first two weeks, but some women experience cramps for as long as six weeks after an abortion. However, severe abdominal pain after abortion can be a sign of a complication. If you experience intense abdominal or back pain after abortion that persists even after you’ve taken pain relievers, contact your abortion provider. Severe after-abortion pain is most commonly caused by an infection that can be treated with antibiotics.

You should also seek medical attention right away if you experience a sudden onset of severe pain after abortion coupled with lightheadedness, sweating or rapid heartbeat.

Other After-Abortion Symptoms

Remember, every person is different, and every woman may experience different symptoms after an abortion. Here are some other abortion symptoms you may notice:

Changing Hormones After Abortion

The body produces certain hormones during pregnancy and, naturally, having an abortion causes a drop in those hormones. As your body adjusts to these changing hormones after abortion, you may experience mood swings, difficulty sleeping and more.

Some women also experience intense feelings of grief and sadness following an abortion, which can also be caused in part by hormones. If difficult feelings last more than two weeks following an abortion, you may benefit from post-abortion counseling.

Bloating After Abortion

Some women experience bloating or swelling after having an abortion. Mild bloating is normal and may last for a few days. However, if the bloating is accompanied by fever, abnormal cramping or bleeding, tenderness or chills, it could be a sign of a serious complication. You should call your abortion provider immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Nausea After Abortion

Some women experience nausea as a side effect of taking Misoprostol (the abortion pill). This nausea, with or without vomiting, may occur shortly after taking the pill and is usually normal. However, if you experience prolonged nausea or other symptoms of pregnancy a week or more after an abortion, you should contact your abortion clinic.

Fever After Abortion

Some women also experience short-term fever as a side effect of taking the abortion pill. You should seek medical attention immediately if your fever is 100.4 degrees or higher or if it persists for more than 24 hours after the abortion.

Signs of Infection After Abortion

When completed legally by a qualified medical professional, abortion is a generally safe procedure with relatively low medical risk. However, it’s still important to be aware of the potential complications of abortion and to know the signs that something may be wrong.

Contact your abortion provider and seek medical help right away if you experience the following symptoms of infection after abortion:

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea more than 24 hours after the abortion
  • Severe abdominal pain that doesn’t get better with medication
  • Signs that you are still pregnant or incomplete abortion symptoms

You should also contact your doctor if you experience heavy and persistent bleeding (soaking through two maxi pads or more per hour); this could also indicate a complication.

While complications after abortion are rare, it’s important to take any symptoms you experience seriously. Your abortion provider will give you more information about the risks of abortion and will provide you with some instructions for abortion aftercare. These instructions may include avoiding tampons, vaginal intercourse, bathtubs and swimming pools to help you reduce your risk of infection after abortion.

Remember, symptoms after abortion can vary widely. Listen to your body and, when in doubt, contact your abortion provider to ensure you are healthy and recovering normally.