Surgical Abortion: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

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

Deciding to end a pregnancy is never easy. After an abortion, it is normal to feel relief, sadness, or guilt. These feelings can change from woman to woman.

If your feelings of sadness do not go away, or if you are irritable, anxious, or having trouble sleeping, talk with your doctor. Medicines and counselling can help treat depression, if you need them.

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?

Activity

  • 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 about 1 week.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Be safe with medicines. 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.

Other instructions

  • Do not have sexual intercourse for at least 1 week, or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • When you do start having sex again, use birth control, and use condoms to prevent infection. Talk with your doctor about birth control methods that fit your lifestyle.
  • During the first week after the procedure, use sanitary pads instead of tampons. Using pads makes it easier to monitor your bleeding.
  • Do not rinse your vagina with fluid (douche).

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.

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 2 or more hours.
  • Your vaginal bleeding seems to be getting heavier, or you pass blood clots larger than the size of a golf ball.
  • 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 any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You are bleeding (not spotting) for more than 2 weeks.
  • You have new symptoms that might be caused by medicines.
  • You have not had a menstrual period within 6 weeks of the procedure.
  • 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 https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: March 16, 2017