Recovery time after an abortion will be different for everyone, but you'll usually feel better within a few days.
Information and advice for after your abortion
Your abortion provider will give you instructions about how to care for yourself during and after your abortion and how to get care if you have any issues. If you're having issues, contact your abortion provider for advice about what to do.
As a general guide:
- Bleeding like a period, light or spotting, stop/start for up to two weeks.
- Mild to strong cramps (relieved with regular pain relief).
- (For medical abortion) passing a few large blood clots, for up to 10 days.
- Pregnancy symptoms, breast tenderness, nausea (feeling sick) and fatigue (tired and weak), will go within a week or two.
- Next monthly period in four to six weeks.
- Very heavy bleeding, soaking two full-sized sanitary pads an hour for two hours in a row or passing lots of large clots, or a clot the size of your fist.
- Uncontrollable or constant pain.
- Pain in your shoulder tip.
- Vomiting (throwing up) after taking medications.
- Fever or feeling unwell.
- Smelly vaginal discharge.
- Bleeding, for more than three weeks.
Contact your abortion provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
If you're at a clinic (for surgical and later medical abortions)
- You'll rest in a recovery room usually for around half an hour.
- Because of the medicines you take for having a surgical abortion, you can't drive a car for 24 hours after the abortion. After a medical abortion you can drive as soon as you feel comfortable to.
- Rarely, you might need to stay in hospital overnight for later abortion procedures.
Returning home or if you're already at home
- Take it easy for the rest of the day after the abortion. You can usually return to work, study or usual activities the next day after the abortion.
Need a medical certificate? If you require time off work for your abortion, your abortion provider should be able to provide a medical certificate (a 'doctor's note'). This is signed by the nurse, doctor or midwife caring for you and does not contain any confidential information. Talk to your abortion provider about getting a medical certificate if you need one.
- Problems after an abortion are rare. The most likely risk is infection in the two weeks after your abortion. You can lower infection risk by:
- having showers rather than baths
- using sanitary pads rather than tampons or menstrual cups
- avoiding swimming and spa pools.
- Infections are easy to treat with antibiotics, but left untreated, they can cause health problems. Rare problems can include bleeding too much (haemorrhaging), and damage to the cervix and uterus after a surgical abortion. The risk is very low.
- Avoid having sex for at least two weeks after the abortion. If you do, use a condom, with lube, to protect yourself from infection.
- Avoid travelling away from the area you had your abortion, for 24 hours after the abortion. If you must travel, make sure you know how to access emergency services at your destination.
What about contraception?
You can get pregnant very soon after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, start contraception straight away or as recommended by the nurse or doctor.
- For oral contraception (the Pill), it is recommended that you start the day after the abortion.
- For other forms of contraception, such as long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) (Depo Provera, IUD, Implant), this should be in place before you start having sex.
- If you're having an abortion at a clinic and want long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), talk to your abortion provider. This can be done at the same time as your procedure.
What about emotional side effects?
- Everyone has different feelings after an abortion. Often people feel relief. Even if you're relieved, you could experience strong emotions afterwards. You might feel anger, freedom, regret, guilt, or sadness. These feelings might come and go. Or you may hardly think about it again.
- If you feel you need support before or after your abortion, you can ask for counselling through your abortion provider.
For post-abortion care, contact your abortion provider.
If you need immediate help, go to your local Hospital Emergency Department or call 111 and ask for an ambulance.