After Your Abortion

After your Abortion

Manual Aspiration Procedure

Abortion Pill

Surgical Abortion (D&C)

Resume your normal activities


After cramping resolves, usually 1-4 hours

The next day


Usually lighter than a period

Weeks to months of intermittent bleeding or spotting

Heavier than a period


Usually 5-7 minutes of cramping after the procedure

Usually 1-4 hours of cramping and then it goes away

Usually comes and goes for hours to days

Pregnancy Symptoms

Nausea decreases within hours of the procedure

Nausea goes away within days of taking the first pill

Nausea decreases within hours of the procedure


Nothing in the vagina for 48 hours

Nothing in the vagina for 72 hours after the second medication

Nothing in the vagina for 2-6 weeks

After your Manual Aspiration Procedure, Abortion Pill, or Surgical Abortion

Most women feel immediately better and are able to resume their normal activities after a Manual Aspiration Procedure or after the Abortion Pill. The Manual Aspiration Procedure and the Abortion Pill are non-surgical methods, so the uterus does not need to “heal” from the procedure. The Abortion Pill and the Manual Aspiration Procedure both “bring down” or induce your period, so it is normal to have some period-like cramping and bleeding for days after the procedure. You can use a tampon, take a bath, and resume sexual intercourse 48 hours after the Manual Aspiration Procedure or 72 hours after the second medication (misoprostol or Cytotec® of the Abortion Pill protocol.) There are no restrictions on your activities.

If you had a surgical abortion (D&C), you will likely be recovering from both the procedure and the anesthesia. Most women feel better within hours of a procedure, but sometimes the cramping and after-effects of the anesthesia can take days to resolve. Most clinics instruct you to wait 2-6 weeks before inserting anything in your vagina while your uterus heals from the procedure. (Follow the after-care instructions of the clinic where you had the procedure). You can resume your normal activities as you feel able.

Bleeding after an aspiration procedure or a surgical abortion

Women are very different in their bleeding patterns after the Manual Aspiration Procedure. The good thing is that bleeding rarely indicates a problem. Light bleeding, spotting, bleeding like a period, bleeding heavier than a period, or no bleeding at all, is all normal. Red blood, brown blood, clotted blood is normal. Bleeding that stops and starts is common and normal. Many women get frightened when they pass clots, however clots are not uncommon and do not typically indicate a problem. Blood that sits in your uterus or vagina before it comes out has been exposed to air and normally clots. While it can be frightening when you pass large clots, they do not usually indicate that there is a problem.

  •  Bleeding associated with severe cramping should be evaluated.
  • Daily bleeding that last more than 3 weeks should be evaluated.
  • Sudden heavy bleeding (> 1 maxipad/hour), with or without clots should be evaluated.

Bleeding after the abortion pill

Period-like bleeding for weeks to months is completely normal after the Abortion Pill (RU486). Usually, the bleeding starts and stops and it can be difficult to know when your next period starts. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can get pregnant during this time, even when you are bleeding. It is best to start birth control right after the Abortion Pill to make sure to avoid another pregnancy.

Things to be concerned about include:

  •  If you are having persistent bleeding and you had anemia or a low blood count before you took the pill, you should see a doctor.
  • Sudden heavy bleeding exceeding 2 pads/hour for more than two hours should be evaluated.
  • Very heavy bleeding (>1 pad per hour) for more than one day should be evaluated.
  • Daily bleeding heavier than a period for more than a month should be evaluated.

Cramping or pain after the aspiration procedure or a surgical abortion

Period-like cramping is completely normal for a few days after the Aspiration Procedure. Normal cramping comes and goes and responds to over-the-counter pain medication. If you do not have medication that was provided by your abortion provider, try a pain medication such as ibuprofen 800 mg (Advil®, Motrin®), naprosyn 440 mg (Aleve®), or acetaminophen 650mg (Tylenol®). Applying heat to your lower abdomen can also help. Try a heating pad or a hot water bottle. You can also make your own heating pad by putting dry rice in a pillowcase: put it in the microwave until heated (usually about one to three minutes). You can also lie on your side with your knees to your chest. This position often relieves cramping.

  •  Severe cramping within 24 hours of the procedure should be evaluated.
  • Severe cramping that does not respond to pain medication should be evaluated.
  • Persistent cramping that continues to worsen should be evaluated.
  • Severe cramping with heavy bleeding and clots should be evaluated.
  • Cramping with fever or flu-like symptoms should be evaluated.

Pregnancy symptoms after abortion

Pregnancy symptoms decrease sooner with a Manual Aspiration Procedure than with the Abortion Pill. Within four hours of the Manual Aspiration Procedure or a surgical abortion, pregnancy hormones have dropped by 50%, so symptoms like nausea are typically gone by the next morning. With the Abortion Pill, pregnancy hormones decline more slowly, so it can take days before symptoms start to decline.

Nausea, moodiness, breast fullness and discharge: Nausea is typically the first symptom to go away after ending a pregnancy. This should occur within days of the abortion. Moodiness can sometimes increase after the abortion as the hormone balance changes significantly. It can take one or even two weeks to feel “back to normal.” Breast tenderness and fullness is usually the last symptom to resolve. It typically takes one to two weeks, but can last longer if the breasts are stimulated. Breast milk or discharge can last for months. It is important not to keep checking the nipples or it can continue for longer.

Pregnancy tests-

Pregnancy symptoms are more reliable than pregnancy tests in identifying a problem. If your pregnancy symptoms are getting worse, you should call the doctor. Pregnancy tests can stay positive for weeks or even a month after a procedure and don’t necessarily indicate a problem. For a general guideline, if you were under 6 weeks since your last menstrual period the pregnancy test should be negative in 10 days; 7-8 weeks of pregnancy: 14 days; 9-10 weeks of pregnancy, 21 days. For the Abortion Pill, the pregnancy test may remain positive for up to a month.

  • Pregnancy symptoms that are increasing over the course of a week should be evaluated.
  • Nausea that continues for more than a week after ending a pregnancy should be evaluated.
  • Breast discharge that is yellow, thick, or has blood in it is not normal and should be evaluated.
  • A pregnancy test that remains positive after 3-4 weeks, depending on the length of the pregnancy, should be evaluated.