Instructions for After Your Abortion
Pregnancy termination as performed at Woman's Health Centers is a relatively simple procedure. However, like other surgical operations, complications can occur through no fault of the doctor or medical attendants. Although these complications do not happen often, it is important that you know what to expect and what to do just in case one of these situations occur.
Take your temperature with a thermometer each afternoon and evening for the next five days. If it is 100 degrees or higher, **call your Health Center promptly. A fever may mean that you are getting an infection and it is URGENT that you report it at once so you can be treated. Infection is the most frequent complication after an abortion. About 1 patient in every 100 patients experiences some degree of infection. In most cases, the infection is noticed within three days after the surgery and it can usually be treated simply and effectively with antibiotics.
Excessive bleeding is a less frequent complication. The normal amount of bleeding is different for each woman. Some women may have very little bleeding or no bleeding at all for several days and suddenly, they can experience an increase after day 5 to 6. Many women will have heavier bleeding, much like a period, which may last 3-5 days after the surgery. Some woman spot bleed for 2-4 weeks. Some do not bleed at all. You may pass large or small clots and bleeding may seem to increase when you get up suddenly or go to the toilet. The flow may also increase after you have stopped taking the methergine pills. If the amount of bleeding increases to the point that you are soaking more than one pad per hour, call TWHC promptly. Note: Your first period will occur in 4-12 weeks.
Cramping is usually caused by the uterus contracting to control bleeding. Do not be concerned if you experience mild cramping for several days. Cramping may be felt in the lower abdomen, back, inner thighs or legs. You should be able to get relief by taking 800mg of Ibuprofen, a non-aspirin medicine, or by using a heating pad or hot water bottle. You have been given a prescription for pain medication. Have it filled at your pharmacy and take it as directed, if needed, for cramping. Alternate your pain medication with 3 doses per day of 800mg ibuprofen. If the cramping is severe or constant, and you are not able to get relief from any of these methods, call TWHC immediately.
You may notice some abdominal swelling or bloating following your procedure. Some swelling is normal and may last for 3 to 5 days. If the swelling is accompanied by tenderness, fever, chills, severe cramping or excessive bleeding, it is not normal and you should call TWHC immediately.
Call immediately if you have any problems (fever, excessive bleeding or cramping), which may indicate complications. A member of the WHC staff is available for emergency calls during the hours when the center is not open. Answering services are in great demand and sometimes very busy. Sometimes it is necessary to let the phone ring several times. If the phone is not answered, hang up and call the number again. If you need information and it is NOT an emergency, please call the center directly between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.
- What to Know When You Call
- Your temperature within the last hour.
- The number of sanitary pads that you have soaked within the last 3 hours.
- The telephone number of your pharmacy.
If you are having problems, it is best to contact the center early in the day when pharmacies in your area are still open. For all emergencies related to your abortion, call the center or the emergency number on this information sheet. Do not go to the emergency room of a hospital. This would only result in additional cost to you and is almost always unnecessary.
Because of the long history if frequent, serious complications related to unskilled, illegal abortions, some physicians in the past have felt that women should be hospitalized for heavy bleeding, cramping or fever. Current medical experience suggests that most complications can be treated effectively with medication, without requiring a hospital visit. If hospitalization is necessary, we will be glad to fully inform your physician about the your abortion procedure.
- To Prevent Infection
After your surgery, you can reduce the risk of getting an infection by making a few temporary changes to your lifestyle. In 3-4 weeks, you will return to the clinic for your post-abortion checkup. At that time, you should be able to return to all of your normal activities.
Not OK for 3-4 Weeks
OK for 3-4 Weeks
- Tub baths
- Jacuzzis/Hot tubs
- Sanitary pads (maxipads)
- Showers only
Not OK for 1 Week
OK for 1 Week
- Heavy lifting
- Strenuous Activity
- Normal Movements
Keep in mind, the more active you are for the first 5-7 days following your abortion, the more bleeding and cramping you may experience.
- Medication Information
You may have been given an antibiotic to prevent infection and/or methergine to contract your uterus. If so, begin taking both of them today. Follow the directions given on the prescription bottles. Take all your medicines with food.
- Your Feelings
During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a hormonal change which may cause moodiness. After a pregnancy is ended, either by childbirth or abortion, the body again goes through some changes. You may have some depression or a “blue day” or two during the week following the abortion. If you are troubled by negative thoughts or feelings about the abortion a month or two afterwards, please return to the center and let us give you a referral to a qualified mental health counselor. Abortion does not cause mental health issues.
- Post Abortion Check-up
To be sure that your body is back to normal after your abortion, you are required to return for a post abortion examination. If you do not keep your appointment, your health and well being may be in danger. The center, its staff, and the attending physician(s) cannot be held responsible for your care after your abortion if you do not show up for this scheduled appointment. This WARNING is for your own benefit. Please take care of yourself by keeping this important post abortion checkup appointment. This check-up is a free service provided by the center.