Surgical Abortion Care - Topic Overview
Care before a surgical abortion
Before a surgical
abortion, your doctor will:
- Evaluate your past health, including any
medicines you are taking.
- Do a physical exam, including a
pelvic examination, to evaluate your health, how long
you have been pregnant, and the location and health of the embryo or
- Perform an
ultrasound to confirm how far along and where the
pregnancy is. Not all doctors choose to do this step.
- Discuss your
decision to have an abortion and your feelings about the
- Discuss your plans for future pregnancies and birth
- Explain the procedure, possible problems, and when to
call your doctor.
Care immediately after a surgical abortion
surgical abortion procedure, your doctor will check to make sure:
Medicines that may be given after a surgical abortion
- Antibiotics, to prevent
- Medicines that cause uterine contractions (uterotonic),
to empty the uterus completely and reduce bleeding.
- Rh immunoglobulin, which is given to all women who have Rh-negative blood type to
Rh sensitization after the procedure.
medicine, for cramping pain caused by uterine
- Medicine to treat nausea or vomiting.
Care at home after a surgical abortion
follow all of your doctor's instructions and review what-to-expect information
after a surgical abortion. Follow these instructions:
- Most women can return to normal activities in 1
to 2 days after the procedure. Avoid strenuous exercise for about 1
- Do not have sexual intercourse for at least 1 week, or
longer, as advised by your doctor.
- When you start having
intercourse again, use birth control, and use condoms to prevent infection. For
immediately effective birth control, you can use a barrier method (such as a
diaphragm, cervical cap, or condom). An
intrauterine device (IUD) is effective immediately
after it is placed in the uterus. If you start hormone birth control pills,
patches, or injections right after the procedure, be sure to use a backup
method until the hormone medicine becomes effective. For more information, see
- Do not rinse the vagina with fluids (douche). This could increase your risk
of infections that can lead to
pelvic inflammatory disease.
Normal symptoms that most women will
experience after a surgical abortion include:
- Irregular bleeding or spotting for the first 2
- Cramping for the first 2 weeks. Some women may have
menstrual-like cramping for as long as 6 weeks.
- Emotional reactions for 2 to 3 weeks.
Signs of complications
Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms after an
- Severe bleeding. Both medical and surgical
abortions usually cause bleeding that is different from a normal menstrual
period. Severe bleeding can mean:
- Passing clots that are bigger than a
golf ball, lasting 2 or more hours.
- Soaking more than 2 large pads
in an hour, for 2 hours in a row.
- Bleeding heavily for 12 hours in
- Signs of infection in your whole body, such as
headache, muscle aches, dizziness, or a general feeling of illness. Severe
infection is possible without fever.
- Severe pain in the abdomen
that is not relieved by pain medicine, rest, or heat
- Hot flushes or a fever of
100.4°F (38°C) or higher that
lasts longer than 4 hours
- Vomiting lasting more than 4 to 6
- Sudden abdominal swelling or rapid heart
- Vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells
- Pain, swelling, or redness in the genital area