Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Medical Abortion: Care Instructions
Facebook Tweet Share

Main Content

Medical Abortion: Care Instructions


A medical abortion uses medicines to end a pregnancy. Two medicines are usually used. Your doctor will give you one medicine to take during the visit or at home. You will take the second medicine within 2 days after the first medicine. The timing depends on how your doctor tells you to use them. The second medicine takes about 1 to 2 days to work, with bleeding usually starting within a few hours.

After a medical abortion, you may have bleeding, spotting, and cramping for the first 2 weeks.

You will see your doctor, or go to a lab for a test, within 14 days after taking the medicine. This will help make sure that the abortion is complete. Sometimes the medicine does not work. If that happens, you may need to take a second dose of medicine or have a surgical abortion.

You can get pregnant in the weeks right after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, 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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 after 1 to 2 days.
  • Ask your doctor when it's okay to have sex.
  • If you don't want to get pregnant, use birth control when you start having sex again.
  • Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding. Using pads makes it easier to monitor your bleeding. Do not rinse your vagina with fluid (douche).

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?

Go to

Enter W727 in the search box to learn more about "Medical Abortion: Care Instructions".

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.