Although there is usually a little pain and bleeding, recovery after an uncomplicated abortion happens fairly quickly for most women.
Aftercare advice is available on 0300 333 68 28 (or +44 1789 508 210) all day every day. You can call the clinic where you were treated during opening hours too (the number is at the front of your 'My BPAS guide').
Unexpected or unusual symptoms after an abortion
Phone the Aftercare Line on 0300 333 68 28 (or +44 1789 508 210) immediately (or BPAS clinic where you were treated) if you have any of the following:
- Lasting pain
- Discoloured or smelly vaginal discharge
- Abdominal tenderness
- A general feeling of being unwell or still feeling pregnant
- Continuous and heavy bleeding that soaks 2 or more pads in an hour for 2 hours in a row.
Alternatively go to A&E or see your GP urgently.
What to expect after treatment
Most women bleed for around 1-2 weeks after an abortion.
It is best to use sanitary towels during this time. You should expect the bleeding to be like a normal menstrual period. 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. Following a surgical abortion, a few women will not experience bleeding until the next period is due.
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 cramping on and off for about a week after an abortion. You can take the pain medicines ibuprofen and paracetamol if needed. You can buy these over-the-counter pain medicines from a pharmacy, supermarket and many other shops without a prescription.
There are two strengths of ibuprofen tablets - follow the directions that apply for the strength that you buy.
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 Aftercare Line on 0300 333 68 28 (or +44 1789 508 210).
After an abortion most women feel relieved, but some may also feel sad or guilty. If you feel you need to talk to someone you can make an appointment for post-abortion counselling. This is a free service for women who have had treatment at BPAS. Call us on 03457 30 40 30 (or +44 1789 508 211) to arrange post abortion counselling.
Symptoms of nausea, vomiting and tiredness usually stop within 3 days of an abortion. Sore breasts may take 7 to 10 days to disappear. Your breasts may feel firm and tender and leak milk after your procedure. Your breasts will return to normal after 3 to 4 days of swelling. You will feel more comfortable if you wear a supportive bra and apply cold ice packs to your breasts. Take ibuprofen or paracetamol, if necessary for the pain.
Your next period
Your next menstrual period will begin 4-6 weeks after your treatment. If you have not had a period 6 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.
What can I do?
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 still feel 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.
You should avoid having sex for one week. You can get pregnant almost immediately following an abortion, so it’s important to use contraception if you do not want to get pregnant.
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 that, if you are having the abortion pill up to 10 weeks and choose to travel soon after taking the second medication (misoprostol), you may start to have cramps and bleed heavily whilst you are travelling.