Care After Surgical Abortion
Someone who has just undergone an abortion may be concerned about how to best care for themselves. How long it takes to feel better after having an abortion might vary widely, depending on several factors. In this article, we will discuss some care after surgical abortion.
Abortions fall into one of two categories:
Surgical: During a surgical abortion, the fetus and placenta (an organ that forms during pregnancy) are surgically removed from the uterus.
Medical: To terminate a pregnancy medically, you would take medicine. The “abortion pill” is a common nickname for medical abortion.
Abortions are a relatively risk-free medical procedure. Still, it’s common to have some little discomfort, such as light bleeding or cramping.
Whether you choose a medicinal or surgical abortion, you may experience discomfort the days after the procedure. Follow all of your doctor’s instructions following an abortion. It would help if you did what they said. It may mitigate the symptoms and reduce the likelihood of significant consequences with self-care.
Recurrent side effects of abortion
Both therapeutic and surgical abortions result in the same side effects: bleeding and cramping. Also normal are vomiting, stomach pain, and vaginal bleeding.
After an abortion, bleeding may occur in varying degrees. When undergoing a medical abortion, most bleeding will appear on the day misoprostol is taken. Bleeding after a medical abortion tends to linger longer (on average, nine days) than it does after a surgical abortion, according to a Source (1).
The first several days after a surgical abortion, you may or may not have any bleeding. There’s a chance that you’ll start bleeding anywhere from three to five days later, roughly the same as your period.
Whether you choose a medicinal or surgical abortion, you could have light bleeding for a few days to around two weeks. Some people may have intermittent bleeding.
According to some reports, spots may persist for up to four weeks after an abortion.
Ache and cramping
Expect some cramping after your abortion. It’s an indication your uterus is shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy size after discharging the baby. Abortion pain is usually far more intense than regular period pains.
After a surgical abortion, you may have cramping that seems similar to menstruation discomfort for the first few days but becomes more severe after 3–5 days. In a 2012 research, 78.4 percent of women who had a medical abortion experienced moderate to severe cramping as a side effect.
The cramping associated with a medical abortion was reported to be less intense than that associated with a surgical abortion, although it persisted for longer (2).
You may suffer any, all, or none of the following symptoms after having an abortion, depending on your unique physical makeup:
- Pain in the chest or breasts: It’s possible that you had breast or chest soreness up to and after your abortion. It often persists till the very end of a patient’s treatment.
- Mucus-like discharge, which may be red or purple, brown, or even black, is common. The release may include visible blood.
- You may have gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea for up to 24 hours after a surgical abortion or a few days after taking abortion pills. After that time, it’s probably not an emergency, but you should follow up with a doctor knowledgeable about abortion if you’re experiencing gastrointestinal distress.
- Some women get shivers and feel chills. If accompanied by a high temperature, medical attention is recommended.
- Fatigue. Like any medical operation, your body will need some time to relax and recuperate afterward. You could be less energized than usual or feel like sleeping a lot.
How to Take Care of Yourself after an Abortion
It is necessary to take care of yourself after an abortion. It is advised to take rest at least 2 days after your abortion. But if you feel up to it the following day, you may return to work and your regular routine.
Care After Surgical Abortion – General Instructions after abortion
- During the first several days, you should refrain from vigorous activity and motions that cause discomfort.
- Please do not drive for 8 hours after having an abortion if your doctor prescribed pain medication.
- Don’t use heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after receiving intravenous sedation.
- Before having intercourse or inserting anything vaginally again, most physicians advise waiting at least two to three weeks, and sometimes more if the operation includes surgery.
- A doctor may give medication to stop bleeding or decrease the likelihood of infection.
- Remember to always follow the prescribed dosage while using these medications.
Don’t miss any of your follow-up visits. Your doctor will double-check the results of the medical abortion to ensure it was successful.
After an abortion, cramp pain, like that of a period, is quite prevalent. After the operation, patients should have a friend or family member drive them home. They should relax as much as possible the next day or two and maybe take the next several days off if feasible. They must refrain from doing anything that would put too much strain on them psychologically or physiologically (3).
As the cervix does not seal immediately after an abortion, the woman is more vulnerable to infection for some time afterward. For two weeks, you should refrain from doing the following to lessen the likelihood of disease (4):
- Using tampons
- Have sexual penetration
- Vaginal insertion of anything
After an abortion, it’s essential to prioritize self-care. The operation itself may not take long, but the time needed to recuperate may be longer.
Having an abortion is not just a personal choice but a trying event emotionally. After the surgery, this is exacerbated by hormonal imbalances, which may lead to emotional instability. Progesterone and estrogen levels in a woman’s body naturally fall after an abortion. Mood swings and feelings of depression are possible outcomes.
Once a woman has her period again, her hormone levels will normalize. But other individuals have persistent emotional challenges that they shouldn’t brush off. Statistics show a correlation between abortion and rising incidence of Mood changes, Anxiety, Sleep problems, and Other Mental Health issues like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
As an added caution, those with a preexisting history of mental health issues may be more vulnerable to these results. When dealing with mental health issues, getting some rest, talking to supportive people, and seeing a professional is essential.
Emotional Stability After the Procedure
There is no “normal” reaction to abortion. While some women may sense relief, others may experience disappointment. You may experience a range of feelings simultaneously. Pregnancy hormones are still present in your body; therefore, that’s expected (5).
Those needing emotional support may turn to groups like Exhale and All-Options, which do not charge clients and maintain their privacy. Talking to a professional or a reliable person in your life, such as a friend or family member, is also beneficial.
Make an appointment with your doctor if your mood swings are severe or persistent enough to affect your everyday life.
Sometimes Abortion Is Mandatory To Avoid Severe Health Complications
For many women, abortion is the only option to protect themselves from serious health complications.
- Embryonic development causes angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), resulting in a raised blood flow. This increases the mother’s blood pressure. A condition called PRE-ECLAMPSIA. In the United States, high blood pressure affects one in every thirteen pregnant women.
- For women who do make it through pregnancy with high blood pressure, the risks of early death from Heart Disease are doubled, and the risk of premature death from Alzheimer’s disease is tripled.
- One in every seven pregnant women in the United States develops Gestational Diabetes because embryos release a powerful hormone that causes the mother’s blood glucose levels to spike up.
Nearly all women with gestational diabetes will acquire type 2 diabetes within 20 years.
- The placenta penetrates far into the mother’s body, providing direct access for the embryo to circulation. Therefore, 11 percent of maternal fatalities in the United States directly result from excessive bleeding after childbirth.
As a result of complications that might arise during pregnancy, physicians and parents sometimes have to make decisions that put the woman’s health ahead of the embryo’s health.
(Written by Dr. Ebad Khan)
- Magowan BA, Owen P, Thomson A. Abortion. In: Magowan BA, Owen P, Thomson A, eds. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2019:chap 20.
- Mullins EWS, Regan L. Women’s health. In: Feather A, Randall D, Waterhouse M, eds. Kumar and Clarke’s Clinical Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 39.
- Rivlin K, Westhoff C. Family planning. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 13.
- Caring for yourself after your abortion. (n.d.).https://www.bpas.org/abortion-care/abortion-aftercare.
- Reardon, D. C. (2018). The abortion and mental health controversy: A comprehensive literature review of common ground agreements, disagreements, actionable recommendations, and research opportunities.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6207970.
- Thorne, R. (2022, July 22). After abortion: Care, recovery, side effects, and more. Healthline. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/after-abortion.
- Trends in pregnancy and childbirth – blue cross blue shield association. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2022, from https://www.bcbs.com/sites/default/files/file-attachments/health-of-america-report/HoA_Maternal_Health.pdf.
- Singh, H. J. (2009, January). Pre-eclampsia: Is it all in the placenta? The Malaysian journal of medical sciences : MJMS. Retrieved August 11, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336172/.
- Maternal mortality in the United States: A Primer. Commonwealth Fund. (2020, December 16). Retrieved August 11, 2022, from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-brief-report/2020/dec/maternal-mortality-united-states-primer.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 10). Gestational diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 11, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html.
- Reinforcement of EMTALA obligations specific to patients who are pregnant or are experiencing pregnancy loss. CMS. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2022, from https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/reinforcement-emtala-obligations-specific-patients-who-are-pregnant-or-are-experiencing-pregnancy.
- Abortion is essential healthcare and women’s health must be prioritized over politics. OHCHR. (2021, September 28). Retrieved August 11, 2022, from https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2021/09/abortion-essential-healthcare-and-womens-health-must-be-prioritized-over.