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After Abortion Care

Terminating an unwanted pregnancy is not uncommon. 1 in 3 UK women opts for early pregnancy termination. It is vital to know the facts and debunk the myths about abortion before going for an abortion.

Medical abortion and surgical abortion are two of the most common methods.

Below we have differentiated the two so you could make a well-informed decision. We have also provided information on the termination procedure, after abortion care, and when to see a doctor.

A] Medical Abortion vs Surgical Abortion: The Difference

1. Medical Abortion

The medical termination of pregnancy includes pills. It is one of the safest options for women seeking an early abortion at 6 to 9 weeks. Here, two pills are administered at different times. The pills can be taken in the clinic or at home. Post taking the pill, some women may feel nausea while others might experience cramping. Expect heavy bleeding after an abortion for 3 to 6 hours. This is a sign that your body is terminating the pregnancy.

The primary advantage of medical abortion is its a non-surgical and non-invasive procedure. It is equivalent to a miscarriage and has a lower risk of health complications. The success rate of medical termination of pregnancy is also high (98%-99%). Plus, compared to surgical abortion, the side-effects of terminating a pregnancy via abortion pills are less intense.

2. Surgical Abortion

Medical termination is advisable for an early stage abortion at 13 weeks or less. Post that, aspiration (surgical) abortion is ideal. In this procedure, the gynaecologist utilises medical equipment to dilate/open the cervix. The entire procedure is safe and performed under local anaesthetic.

An advantage of this procedure is that it takes up to 15 minutes max. Compared to medical abortion, you will experience less bleeding, quicker recovery, and the success rate is 99%. You have expert help at your side (medical staff), which is another benefit of surgical abortion.

Read: Frequently asked questions about Abortion

B] Medical Abortion and Surgical Abortion: Side Effects

1. Medical Abortion Side Effects

  • Fatigue, nausea, and diarrhoea are a few common side effects of medical abortion.
  • Post heavy bleeding, the health care provider may prescribe pain medication.
  • To ease cramping, use a hot water bottle or a heating pad and apply to your lower stomach.
  • It is also recommended to take a few days off from work and rest after the abortion.
  • The abortion pill is quite effective. However, if it fails, you can try again or opt for the aspiration abortion.

2. Surgical Abortion Side Effects

  • The common side effects of surgical abortion are severe cramps and pelvic infection. There could also be a minimal risk of scar tissue.
  • Pain medication can be prescribed.
  • You may also experience vaginal pain, bleeding and cramps similar to heavy periods for 2-4 days.

If you experience any further problems, visit the clinic at the earliest.

C] After/Post Abortion Care Tips

Post-abortion, experiencing fatigue and exhaustion is common. Cramps after abortion is also common, which may feel quite intense at times.

  • Utilise sanitary pads until the next period as it is safer compared to tampons.
  • Avoid swimming pool for at least 1–2 weeks
  • Massaging the stomach and back may help ease cramping
  • Apply a heating pad to the stomach or back to relieve cramping and pain.
  • Seek medical advice if the pain is severe or agonising
  • Monitor your temperature every day for a week, as fever could suggest an infection.

1. Medical Abortion After Care Tips

Follow the doctor’s instructions carefully after medical abortion:

  • Most women can return to their normal activities in 1 or 2 days after the procedure. However, avoid strenuous exercises for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Do not have sex after a medical abortion for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Be sure to use birth control when you start having sexual intercourse again. Use condoms to prevent further infection.
  • Do not rinse the insides of the vagina with fluids since it could increase the risk of infections leading to pelvic inflammatory disease.

Note: Do not ignore the warning signs of infection after an abortion.

Have a follow-up with the doctor within a few weeks post-abortion. Further medical care will not be necessary if there are no signs of complications.

2. Surgical Abortion After Care Tips

After the surgical procedure, the doctor will check to ensure:

  • All your vital signs such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure are normal
  • Uterine contractions are normal
  • Bleeding is not extreme

D] When to See a Doctor

1. Post Surgical Abortion Symptoms

If you have any of the following symptoms after a surgical abortion, visit a private abortion center in London immediately.

  • Passing of blood clots that last for two or more hours
  • Using more than two maxi pads in an hour for two hours in a row
  • Headache, dizziness, muscle aches, or a general feeling of illness
  • Pain in the belly that isn’t relieved by pain medicine, heat or rest
  • Vomiting lasting for more than 4 to 6 hours
  • Vaginal discharge that smells bad
  • Sudden belly swelling or rapid heart rate

2. Post Medical Abortion Symptoms

If you have any of the following symptoms after a medical abortion, call your doctor immediately or visit a private abortion centre in London:

  • No bleeding could mean that the medicines are not working. In this case, consult with your doctor.
  • The abortion pills may take up to three weeks to be effective
  • Bleeding lasts for a longer duration than two weeks
  • No menstrual periods within six weeks after the abortion


What complications may occur?
If you experience any of the below-mentioned symptoms, call the doctor immediately.

  • Fever over 100 degrees
  • Excessive bleeding (soaking one pad an hour for three straight hours)
  • Terrible cramps or lengthy abdominal pain.
How can I avoid infection?
Here are some instructions to decrease the chance of pelvic infection:

  • Take antibiotics as instructed by the doctor
  • Refrain from intercourse and do not insert anything (tampons included) in your vagina for two weeks.
  • You can shower, but it is advisable to not sit in a tub of water or swim.
Will I bleed or cramp?
You may bleed for a week or on & off for four weeks after the procedure. The flow may differ from very light to fairly heavy.

  • Blood flow may increase with exercise and decrease with rest.
  • Small blood clots are normal. Clots can appear to be dark purple to red.
  • Utilise sanitary pads only and not tampons after the procedure.
  • Vaginal discharge may have an odour and appear brown or yellow.
When can I resume my normal activities after the procedure?
It is advisable to go home and rest after the procedure. Avoid any activity that increases pain. Do not drive a car if you have received any pain medications. If you received IV (intravenous) medication during the procedure, do not drive for 24 hours.
How early can I get an abortion pill?
You can get a medical abortion up to 77 days after the first day of your last period. If it has been 78 days or more since the first day of your last period, you may have to have an in-clinic abortion.
How long does it take to recover from an abortion?
Abortion recovery time differs from person to person. Women who have first-trimester abortions, and those who do not face any complications usually feel normal within a few days. Plus, the bleeding stops within six weeks.

Recovery from abortion in later trimesters may take longer. If complications arise, it may take much longer, or you may need surgery. Complications, however, are rare.

How soon can I get an abortion?
You can get an abortion before 24 weeks of your pregnancy. Post 24 weeks, only under specific circumstances are medical or surgical abortions carried out. For example, if the mother’s life is at risk or the baby has a severe disability.
How long after an abortion can I have sexual intercourse?
It is advisable to wait a week or two after an abortion before having sexual intercourse.
How do I know if the abortion pill worked?
As soon as the abortion is completed, the symptoms will reduce. Bleeding may be lighter, and cramping may not feel severe. Other side effects like nausea or fever will also disappear.

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Neha Goel

Neha Goel, a Psychology alumna and MBA graduate from CASS Business School, London, brings together her expertise as a Reiki Practitioner and Practice Manager. She integrates psychology and business strategies to foster holistic well-being and personal development.