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Surgical Abortion: What to Expect at Home

Your recovery

You may have cramps and light bleeding for up to 2 weeks after a surgical abortion. Most people can return to normal activities 1 to 2 days after the procedure.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough rest will help you recover.
  • Ask your doctor when you can return to normal activities and strenuous exercise. Most people can return to normal activities 1 to 2 days after the procedure.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take medicines exactly as directed.
  • Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding. Using pads makes it easier to monitor your bleeding.
  • Do not rinse inside your vagina with fluid (douche). This could increase your risk of infections that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Ask your doctor when it's okay to have vaginal sex. You can get pregnant in the weeks after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about birth control options.

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.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe vaginal bleeding along with light-headedness or nausea.
  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.

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

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.
  • You have bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks through a pad in an hour, or you have large clots.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain.
    • A fever.
  • You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
  • You still feel pregnant or have pregnancy symptoms.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.