After a medication (medical) abortion

Everywoman's mural detail

Here’s what to expect after the medication abortion:

  • The amount of bleeding varies. It is likely to be heavier than a period at first, and stay at least as heavy as a period for a few days. Ten days is the average time of bleeding, although sometimes there can be bleeding on and off or continuously until the next period comes in 4-6 weeks. It is also possible that you may only have a few hours of heavy bleeding or no bleeding at all.
  • Your normal period should begin three to six weeks after the abortion, unless you are on birth control pills, Depo Provera (the shot) or have a Mirena inserted.
  • Menstrual-like cramping pain is normal after a medication abortion. Use Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Actiprofen) if needed. Aspirin (A.S.A., Entrophen) may increase bleeding. Heat from a hot water bottle or heating pad can also be very helpful for cramps,
  • Mood swings or emotional upset often accompanies the drop in pregnancy hormones and may last for a few days or even weeks. Morning sickness should disappear within two days after taking the first medication and breast changes usually settle by the end of the first week but both may persist if you are on hormonal birth control.

Precautions:

  • Your follow up appointment is very important for your safety. You may still be bleeding at this time, which is normal. The doctor will do an ultrasound to make sure the abortion is complete.
  • IF you were given antibiotics – take them.
  • Do not drive, operate hazardous equipment if you use Gravol,Tylenol 3 or Oxycodone. You should also avoid alcohol if you take these medications.
  • Do not do a pregnancy test afterwards as the pregnancy hormones leave the body slowly. A test can still be positive for weeks after an abortion has removed the pregnancy.
  • You must contact the clinic if you have any unexpected hospitalizations with 30 days of the procedure.
  • PLEASE NOTE: it IS possible to get pregnant right after an abortion; you can conceive very soon afterwards if you are not using any birth control method. Birth control is recommended the day after you take the misoprostol (the second medication). If you want an IUD we can arrange the insertion appointment at our clinic. If you are eligible and want to get an IUD for free through the Safe Methods program, it needs to be put in within two weeks of your follow up appointment.

Further care
Free post-abortion counselling is available at the clinic for those who feel it would be helpful. If you experience prolonged sadness or emotional turmoil you may benefit from this counselling; there is no charge for this. To make an appointment for this service please call 604-322-6692 during normal clinic hours. We have produced a handout you may find helpful on how to cope afterwards. There is also a coping and caring for yourself worksheet and a pamphlet on dealing with difficult emotions. Support persons can find information on how to support someone after an abortion here.

There are also some good, pro-choice post-abortion resources on the internet including the Peaceafterabortion.com website, the Exhale website, and a helpful pamphlet After your Abortion from the Hope Medical Group in the US. Another resource online is A Guide to Emotional and Spiritual Resolution After an Abortion. For spiritual issues, the Faith Aloud website may be helpful as well.

We have also written about some of the different circumstances that can impact a decision to have an abortion or the experience of having one. You can find that here.