After an Abortion
Although there will usually be a little pain and bleeding, recovery usually happens fairly quickly for most women after an uncomplicated abortion.
Physical symptoms to look out for
Please call our Aftercare Line immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after your treatment:
- lasting pain
- discoloured or smelly vaginal discharge
- abdominal tenderness
- a general feeling of being unwell
- continuous and heavy bleeding that soaks 2 or more pads in an hour for 2 hours in a row
Alternatively you could call call your bpas treatment clinic during opening hours (the phone number should be written in the front of your bpas guide), visit your local A&E without delay, or seek an urgent appointment with your GP.
Our Aftercare Line 0800 247 1122 is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our nurses are available to answer all your questions or if you are worried about anything at all.
What to expect
We have made a short film to help you to get a good idea of what to expect after your abortion treatment. The video footage shows an actress playing the part of a client after an abortion treatment.
Click on the image to view the client afterwards video
Most women bleed for around 1-2 weeks after an abortion, use sanitary towels during this time. Bleeding will be like a normal menstrual period and you may also pass some small blood clots. In most cases the bleeding will then stop but you may experience spotting until your next period.
If your bleeding soaks 2 or more sanitary towels per hour for 2 hours in a row, then you should contact the clinic, or Aftercare Line urgently for advice. If you cannot call go to A&E.
Most women experience off and on cramping for about a week after an abortion. Take ibuprofen and paracetamol to control pain if necessary. You can buy these over-the-counter pain medicines from a pharmacy, supermarket and other shops without a prescription.
Please remember that there are 2 strengths of ibuprofen tablets. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with these medicines, and take them as directed.
You can take paracetamol and ibuprofen together if the recommended dose of either medicine alone is not controlling your pain. If these medicines are not controlling your pain please call the clinic or bpas Aftercare Line on 0800 247 1122.
After an abortion most women feel relieved, but some may also feel sad or guilty. It is a good idea to have someone with you afterwards so if you do need support, you have someone you know and trust to help you along.
If you feel you need to talk to someone, you can call us on 08457 30 40 30 to make an appointment for post-abortion counselling. This is a free service for women who have had treatment at bpas.
If you live or work in London, we have a dedicated phone line to book post abortion counselling appointments. Please call: 0845 365 4321. Phone lines are open between 9.30am - 3.30pm Monday to Friday.
What can I do?
You can take a bath or shower as normal. Take care if you have a bath in the 24 hours following a general anaesthetic, you will need to make sure someone is around to keep an eye on you, in case you are still feeling drowsy.
Other activities, including work
Most women will be fit and well enough to return to normal activities within a day or two. Our best advice is to rest until you feel able to return to your normal routine.
To reduce the risk of infection we advise against having sex for 1-2 weeks, but if this is not possible then a condom must be used to avoid infection. Fertility returns almost immediately after an abortion, so its important to use contraception if you do not want to get pregnant.
What if I have a flight booked?
It is best not to travel within 24 hours of treatment. If you must travel just make sure you know how to access emergency services at your destination in case of a complication. Please be aware if you are having the abortion pill up to 9 weeks and choose to travel soon after taking the second medication (misoprostol), that you may start to have cramps and bleed heavily whilst you are travelling.
My next period
Your next menstrual period will begin 4-6 weeks after your treatment. If you have not had a period 4 weeks after your treatment, you should do a pregnancy test. If it is positive ring the clinic or Aftercare Line. It’s important to remember that any bleeding immediately after your treatment is not a period.
Click here to download The Recovery section from the bpas guide.