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What are the Common After Effects of Abortion?

By Rhonda Rivera
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Some after effects of abortion are very common, while others are somewhat rarer and more serious. Nausea, stomach pain and cramping, and slight bleeding is to be expected after any abortion. These physical effects should ease and then disappear completely two to four weeks after the procedure. If they persist longer than expected, it is highly recommended to see a doctor to evaluate the situation. More serious after effects of abortion occur in less than one percent of first trimester abortions and about two percent of late term abortions.

A drug called misoprostol is often used for both drug-induced abortion and dilating the cervix of women who require a surgical abortion. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are common side effects of misoprostol. Some other drugs used for these purposes have the same or similar effects. Generally, these problems subside within hours of the procedure.

Experiencing abdominal pain after an abortion is normal and rarely cause for concern. Some researchers observed a link between severe pain and how far along the pregnancy was, so abortions performed early in the pregnancy might be less painful. Often, a health professional administers a pain reliever before the abortion patient returns home. Doctors typically ask their patients to call the office if the pain continues after two weeks or worsens.

Bleeding and spotting are expected after effects of abortion but can be the most alarming for an abortion patient. It is not unusual to bleed slightly from one day to two months after the abortion. The amount of blood loss should be trivial and comparable to a menstrual period, however, and not compromise the woman’s health. If there is heavy bleeding, or enough bleeding to negatively affect the patient, a doctor should be consulted to ensure that everything is going as expected.

After a successful and uncomplicated abortion, the patient’s menstrual period returns about four to six weeks later. It is possible for a woman to undergo an abortion and get pregnant within one month, even if her period has not returned. Birth control methods, such as contraceptives and condoms, can be used to prevent pregnancy in the future, and are sometimes provided for free at various health clinics.

Post-abortion trauma, also known as post-abortion syndrome, refers to depression, anxiety, and other long-term mental illnesses a woman might experience because of an abortion. This illness is not scientifically proven to exist, and many studies have disproved its existence or remained inconclusive. Some women do experience negative emotional after effects of abortion, but it is not guaranteed that all or even most will.

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Discussion Comments
By fify — On Jul 22, 2014

@candyquilt-- That's a great point. I'm glad you mentioned this and I completely agree with you. I think it's beneficial to speak to a professional about this decision both before and after the procedure.

By candyquilt — On Jul 22, 2014

One after effect of abortion that is rarely talked about is anxiety and/or depression. Most women know what to expect in terms of physical side effects, but most don't think about the psychological effects of abortion.

Whether it is mandatory or elective, abortion can be traumatic for women. I think that some women, despite being okay with their decision before the procedure, experience some anxiety and guilt afterward.

That's why I think that women should not hesitate to speak to a therapist about this. Professional help may be needed to overcome the psychological effects.

By SteamLouis — On Jul 21, 2014

It makes sense that the earlier in the pregnancy an abortion is carried out, the less painful it would be. Because surgical abortion involves removing the fetus and scraping the endometrium. The larger the fetus, the more painful abortion will be.

As for cramping and spotting, I've read from other sources that these are normal as well. Doctors also prescribe medications to relieve pain and prevent bleeding. So if the medications are used as directed, these symptoms will probably not be severe.

My sister had an abortion and she only experienced mild pain and spotting for the following week. Everything was back to normal after that. She did have an abortion fairly early in the pregnancy though.

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