When you’re planning to have an abortion, there are a lot of preparations to be made. You need to decide what type of abortion you’re going to have, familiarize yourself with your state’s abortion laws, find an abortion provider to perform the procedure and more.

But in addition to preparing for the abortion itself, you may want to prepare for what to expect after having an abortion. How will you feel? How long does it take to recover from an abortion? Will you need any special care? Exactly what happens after abortion?

Whether you’ve already made your abortion decision or are still exploring your unplanned pregnancy options, it’s important to know what to expect from life after abortion.

What Happens After an Abortion?

Every woman is different, and what to expect after abortion can vary based on your individual body and circumstances. In general, the recovery period after abortion is relatively short, but you will need to carefully follow any post-abortion care instructions provided by your doctor and ask them any questions you have about resuming your regular activities after abortion.

Read on to learn more about what to expect after taking the abortion pill or having a surgical abortion.

Abortion Recovery

After an abortion, most women experience some physical symptoms, like bleeding and cramping, for one to three weeks. While abortion recovery time can vary on a case-by-case basis, most women report feeling back to normal about two weeks after having an abortion.

During this abortion recovery time, it’s important to follow any instructions provided by your abortion clinic, listen to your body and take care of yourself. Here are some basic things you can do to make yourself more comfortable help ensure a speedy recovery after abortion:

  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest; take a day or two off work if you can.
  • Take any antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or Tylenol (if your doctor says it’s okay).
  • Use a heating pad or hot water bottle to help ease discomfort.
  • Do not resume normal activities until you feel ready.

Your abortion provider can explain what to expect after an abortion and provide more information about your anticipated recovery time after abortion. If you have questions about healing after abortion, or if your symptoms persist longer than your doctor says they should, contact your abortion clinic to schedule a follow-up appointment.

After-Abortion Care

Your abortion provider will also give you some instructions for abortion aftercare. It’s very important to follow any post-abortion care directions you are given, which may include:

  • Avoiding vaginal intercourse
  • Using pads instead of tampons
  • Avoiding heavy lifting or exercise
  • Avoiding bathtubs and swimming pools

These post-abortion precautions help reduce the risk of infection and give your body a chance to recover after abortion.

Your abortion clinic may ask you to schedule a follow-up appointment a couple weeks after the abortion to ensure you are healing properly and there are no signs of infection or other complications. They can also make sure the abortion was successful and there is no pregnancy tissue left in your uterus.

Resuming Normal Activities after Abortion

Many women are eager to get back to their day-to-day lives after having an abortion, and they may wonder how their recovery from abortion may interfere with activities like work and exercise. In general, you should be able to resume most activities whenever you feel ready, but always ask your doctor if you have questions about what to do after an abortion.

Below are some common questions women ask about resuming normal activities after abortion:

  • Can you drink after an abortion? Drinking after abortion may increase the risk of heavy bleeding. It’s recommended that you do not drink alcohol for at least 48 hours following your abortion, and you should not drink alcohol while taking antibiotics.
  • Can I drive after an abortion? You will likely need someone to drive you home from the clinic after surgical abortion if you were given certain sedatives or pain medications during the procedure. Your abortion clinic will let you know if you need to bring someone with you to the clinic on the day of your procedure.
  • Do I need to use birth control after abortion? You can get pregnant again very shortly after an abortion, so it’s very important to use birth control. Your abortion provider can explain your birth control options and give you a prescription before you leave the clinic. If you are interested in an IUD after abortion, you may even be able to have the IUD inserted during your abortion procedure or at your follow-up visit.
  • When can I exercise after abortion? Physical activity can increase bleeding after an abortion. Your doctor may suggest that you avoid exercise or heavy lifting for a few days or a few weeks after your abortion.

Remember that nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice; always talk to your doctor or clinic and follow any instructions they give you for abortion after care.

In addition to your physical recovery after abortion, it’s important to address any difficult emotions you may experience following an abortion. While many women feel relieved after having an abortion, it is also common for women to struggle with feelings of sadness, guilt or regret. You can read more about the psychological effects of abortion and find post-abortion support resources here.