Medical Abortion: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A medical abortion uses medicines to end a pregnancy. Your doctor gives you one medicine to take during an office visit and a second medicine for you to take at home. The medicine takes about 1 to 2 days to work.

After a medical abortion, you may have bleeding, spotting, and cramping for the first 2 weeks. Your bleeding may last longer if you were pregnant for more than 7 weeks. You may also feel relief, sadness, guilt, and grief.

Your doctor will want to see you again within 2 weeks to make sure that the abortion is complete. Sometimes the medicine does not work. If that happens, you will need a surgical abortion.

You can get pregnant in the weeks right after an abortion. During your follow-up visit, talk with your doctor about birth control methods.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent nausea or infection. Take them as directed.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Most women can return to normal activities 1 to 2 days after the procedure.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Do not have sex for 1 to 2 weeks or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Be sure to use birth control when you start having sex again.
  • Wear sanitary pads to monitor your bleeding. Do not douche or use tampons until your doctor says it is okay.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. You are passing blood clots and soaking through a pad each hour for 4 or more hours.
  • Your vaginal bleeding seems to be getting heavier, or you pass blood clots larger than the size of a golf ball for more than 4 hours.
  • You are vomiting or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have new or more belly pain.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have signs of infection, such as headache, muscle aches, or dizziness. Even if you don't have a fever, you might still have a severe infection.
  • You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount and smells bad.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You don't have any bleeding. This may mean that the medicines aren't working.
  • Your bleeding lasts longer than 2 weeks.
  • You have new symptoms that might be caused by the medicines.
  • You have feelings of sadness and grief that are getting in the way of your daily life. You might need medicines or counselling to treat depression.

Where can you learn more?

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