The period after abortion: What to expect, how to deal with
Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) starts with pre-abortion consultation and lasts through post-abortion recovery. Women often find themselves in a state of confusion as to what to expect after an abortion. Some of the concerns they are likely to have are regarding post-abortion periods, post-abortion sex and post-abortion pregnancy.
If you too are seeking an abortion, you must visit only a registered abortion hospital for the best abortion care. Whether abortion is a personal decision or is a part of your prescription, you must have a safe abortion.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all abortion clinics follow the guidelines for safe abortions. This is to ensure that each woman has access to CAC.
In this article, we will discuss some of the common concerns that most women have after an abortion. Or they may have these queries even before an abortion. We shall try to help all readers to get the answers you are looking for.
This article discusses:
- What is a medical abortion? And what can you expect after one?
- What is an in-clinic abortion and what to expect?
- How will abortion affect your periods?
- When to seek medical attention?
- How early can you have sex after an abortion?
- How early can you use birth control after an abortion?
So, let’s begin!
Abortion options in different countries:
One may seek an abortion for several reasons. However, their abortion options may depend on the country in which they are planning to have an abortion.
Many countries consider abortions illegal and hence have restricted abortion rules. For instance, abortions are allowed only in certain conditions to protect the woman’s life. Some may also allow it for terminating pregnancies where fetal anomalies have been detected.
Many women from these countries travel to India for safe, legal and confidential abortions. In case you consider having an abortion in India, you can avail of it for other reasons like a contraceptive failure or rape or incest resulting in an unwanted pregnancy.
Moreover, abortion in India is equally available to married women and unmarried girls. Another thing is that any adult girl or woman can obtain a legal abortion in India with her consent only.
What is a medical abortion? And what can you expect after having one?
Medical abortion or the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) is a safe abortion procedure to end an intrauterine pregnancy. During a medical abortion, approved medicines help in terminating pregnancy.
Speaking of abortion in India, the legally permissible gestation age is up to 20 weeks in most circumstances. However, some women can avail of it for up to 24 weeks in special circumstances. But the methods of abortion vary with the difference in the gestation period.
Medical abortion is the method of choice for only up to 6-8 weeks.
What is it like to have a medical abortion?
During a medical abortion, a woman gets two abortion medicines. The doctor decides the dose, the method of administration and the time stretch between the two pills as per individual patient needs. Since you may not know whether the abortion pills method is the best for you, please avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication.
You get the first abortion medicine, Mifepristone at the hospital. Either you will have to take it orally or the doctor may insert it vaginally. You can go home and return to your normal activities.
This medicine will stop the production and action of the pregnancy hormone, Progesterone in your body. This will deprive the fetus of the required nutrition. Hence, the embryo’s further growth and development stops.
The second medicine is Misoprostol. The doctor may give it to you during the first appointment. You will receive guidance as to when and how to take it. Or the doctor may even call you on a second appointment to take the pill.
After this medicine, your uterus will start contracting. You can expect to experience abdominal cramps and bleeding may start as early as half an hour or may even take up to 2-3 hours. The majority of women pass out the embryo within the next 4-6 hours.
Other placental tissue and pregnancy products may continue to pass as bleeding. Bleeding may range from moderate to heavy. It is normal to experience bigger clots than during your menstrual period. Bleeding may continue for up to days or weeks.
When can you have your first period after a medical abortion?
Your menstruation cycle gets normal just after the abortion. However, your first period after the abortion may depend on how long you continue to bleed.
With a medical abortion, there is always a probability of incomplete abortion. So, if you bleed for more than 10 days, you should get yourself checked to find out if your abortion is complete.
If your abortion is complete, the bleeding shall stop in the upcoming days. And then, you can expect your next period after 6-8 weeks. However, if before abortion your periods were irregular, you may experience similar irregularity after the abortion as well.
In case of an incomplete abortion, you will have to first get it completed by a surgical method. Then, your bleeding shall stay for a couple of days. And, now from this date, you can expect your next period to follow after 6-8 weeks. Each woman’s experience is different from the other. And it is absolutely normal to find out your experience is different from what you’ve heard of from a friend.
Your period delay may also be due to oral contraceptives or any hormonal treatment you are taking. And if you are pregnant again, then you will totally miss your period.
The duration of your period may also differ. However, if all things are back to normal, your second period will come on time as expected as per your menstrual cycle.
What is an in-clinic abortion and what to expect?
There are two types of in-clinic abortions and we will discuss each method to help you know what to expect from each. These are:
- Vacuum aspiration method of abortion
- Dilatation and Evacuation (D&E) method of abortion
What is it like to have a vacuum aspiration abortion and who can have it?
Vacuum aspiration or suction abortion is the method of choice for terminating first-trimester pregnancies. So, intrauterine pregnancies less than 12 weeks may require an in-clinic abortion by the suction method.
However, it is the qualified and experienced practitioner who prescribes the best abortion method according to individual patients’ needs.
The vacuum aspiration method uses suction to evacuate the embryo and pregnancy tissue from the womb. The patient lies in the lithotomy position. The doctor then numbs the patient’s cervix to make the procedure painless. In some cases, the doctor may use general anesthesia to put the patient to sleep.
Then, the doctor inserts a small tube called a vacurette inside the womb through the vaginal route. Next, the aspirator attached to the other end of the vacurette is turned on. Some hospitals may turn them manually. Such a setting is known as the Manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) method of abortion.
Or some doctors may use an electric-driven motor to turn on the aspirator and create suction. That setting is known as Electric Vacuum Aspiration (EVA).
Although the working of both methods is the same. Suction creation is the purpose. This suction then sucks the embryo and other pregnancy products that collect in the collection bottle. The doctor ascertains a complete abortion by evaluating the collected contents.
The entire process is gentle and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. In case some pregnancy tissue remains, the doctor may remove it with the help of forceps. The whole process gets completed in less than 10 minutes.
You may rest for some time until you feel comfortable. The majority of women can walk after the abortion in a few minutes. It is an OPD procedure and the patient can return home within an hour post-abortion.
What to expect post-abortion?
You can expect to bleed for up to 2-3 days. And if you do not bleed at all, it is also normal since most of the tissue removal is complete within the clinic.
Suction abortion is more efficient than abortion pills and hence the risk of incomplete abortion is minimum. If you choose to visit the best doctor for an abortion, you can have a safe, comfortable and successful suction abortion.
Please avoid visiting an unprofessional for any kind of abortion. It may pose threat to your health and life since multiple abortion complications can follow unsafe abortions.
When can you have your first period after a suction abortion?
Just like with medical abortion completion, your menstruation cycle gets normal. However, medical abortion may take time to complete. Whereas, suction abortion is complete within the clinic itself. Therefore, you can expect a normal period somewhere between 5-8 weeks post-abortion.
Some women may have it as early as after 4 weeks. However, each woman’s experience with abortion is different.
Speaking of the duration of your first period after the suction period, it may be small in comparison with your cycle before having an abortion. This is because most of the uterine lining and tissue has already been removed.
Also, some blood clots may be smaller for the same reason. From the second period onwards, you can have a regular menstrual cycle.
It is normal for many women to have their periods delayed. However, it is essential to rule out another pregnancy if you miss a period on your due date.
What is it like to have a D&E abortion and who can have it?
When we are speaking of abortion in India, it is legal for up to 24 weeks under diverse circumstances. So, all late-stage abortions, i.e., second-trimester abortions require a surgical method to remove all pregnancy tissue.
At this stage the pregnancy tissue is more, the uterine lining is thicker and embryo size is large. Therefore, the suction method alone may not be efficient in removing all the tissue.
The patient lies in the lithotomy position. Dilatants help in dilating the cervix. Some hospitals need overnight hospitalization for a D&E procedure. Dilatant insertion is done at night. They work overnight and dilate the cervix enough for the doctor to insert surgical tools and remove the embryo and other pregnancy products.
With the advancements in medical sectors, nowadays, some hospitals like American hospital Bangalore use the latest tools and equipment. So, overnight hospitalization is not necessary. D&E procedure is also available as a short, single-day and single-appointment procedure.
Once the cervix dilates, the doctor uses surgical tools like forceps and others to abrade the uterine lining. Then, the removed tissue is sucked using an aspirator. So, the first step was dilation and the second is evacuation.
The entire process takes less than 30 minutes to complete. The patient can rest in a private room until discharge. Most of the patients feel comfortable within an hour post-abortion and can go home the same day.
You can expect not to bleed at all. Or you may bleed for a couple of days. In most cases, abortion is complete when a qualified and experienced doctor performs a surgical abortion at a registered abortion hospital.
When can you have your first period after a surgical abortion?
Similar to suction abortion, you can expect your period between 4-8 weeks post-abortion. However, each woman’s menstrual cycle and response is different. Therefore, you can expect a unique experience. Seek medical attention in case you do not have your period between this duration and you are not pregnant.
Your first period may be lighter than your usual periods for the same reason, i.e., the tissue for shedding is less. Your second period may be usual.
Some women get their periods regularized after 2-3 cycles. It is normal. However, in case of more irregularities than you ever had, you should seek medical attention. The doctor may check your hormone profile and guide you to have some supplements also.
How will abortion affect your periods?
Having an abortion can affect the periods differently based on the method of abortion. It has been discussed above along with each method when can you expect your periods, what’s normal and what’s not.
Since the abortion restarts the menstrual cycle, periods shall get normal on their own. But when can you expect your period may somewhat depend on how long your post-abortion bleeding lasts. Consider your next period to follow after 4-8 weeks from having the post-abortion bleeding stopped.
It is normal to have a lighter period as mentioned above after an in-clinic abortion. It is also normal for your period duration to be short since abortion empties your uterus.
On the other hand, it is normal to have a heavy period following a medical abortion. This is because of the hormonal pills and also since the tissue cleaning is done like a menstrual period. Most women return to normal cycles after 2-3 periods.
However, if you do not get your periods by week 8 post-abortion and you are not pregnant, please consult your doctor.
When to seek medical attention?
Although all abortions, medical or surgical are safe and effective, some women may experience unexpected outcomes. And it is essential to seek medical help in such events. So, here are a few outcomes after an abortion in which you should consult your doctor at the earliest. Some outcomes vary with the abortion method while some others are common for any kind of abortion procedure.
It is normal to bleed heavily with a medical abortion. However, if you wet more than a sanitary napkin each hour and this continues for more than 3 hours after an abortion, you should seek medical help. You can experience very heavy bleeding and large-sized clots within 6 hours with medical abortion.
However, if the clot size exceeds that of a mid-sized lemon, you should speak to your doctor. And up to 6 hours bleeding may range from moderate to heavy. But after that, if it continues to be heavy as mentioned above for 3-4 hours, then you may need some blood transfusion or other treatment.
Or you may get unconscious.
With an in-clinic abortion, bleeding may be very less. However, if you experience heavy bleeding even after an in-clinic abortion, you should consult your doctor.
Pain with abdominal cramps is common with medical abortions. The doctor may also prescribe some safe analgesics for you to ease your pain. However, if you do not find comfort even with prescribed pain management and home remedies, you need to consult the doctor.
Most of the women do not experience much pain with in-clinic abortions. Some others may experience slight cramping and pain as the uterus returns to its normal shape. You should avoid strenuous activities and intensive workout sessions after an abortion for a few days.
However, if the pain becomes unbearable, it is time to seek medical attention.
Your periods may get irregular for up to 2-3 cycles in comparison with your pre-abortion menstrual cycles. It is normal. However, if you do not get your periods even up to 8 weeks post-abortion, you should pay a visit to your gynecologist.
You can take a home pregnancy test also before visiting to rule out any chances of conception.
Delay is normal but as mentioned above, a delay of 8 weeks is something that needs medical attention. However, missing a period entirely between cycles can be because of pregnancy. Please check that out.
In case you are not pregnant and still, skip a cycle or more between cycles, it may be a case of amenorrhea. Please schedule an appointment for follow up.
If you experience fever with or without chills after an abortion and the fever does not improve by 24 hours, you should talk to your doctor. You may have developed some infection needing antibiotics. Do not let the infection spread into sepsis. It may be dangerous to your health.
How early can you have sex after an abortion?
You can have a sexual relationship after an abortion as soon as you are ready. However, you should avoid intercourse to prevent infections.
And do not forget to use a contraceptive if getting pregnant is not what you are looking forward to having.
How early can you use birth control after an abortion?
You can start birth control right away after your abortion. You can even have an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) implanted during your in-clinic abortion. The doctor may insert it at the same time.
If you choose the contraceptive pill method after medical abortion, you can start that after speaking to your doctor. This is to ensure that you have a completed abortion. With most in-clinic abortions, you can expect to start the contraceptive pills soon after. However, please get it prescribed by the doctor. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate.
Condoms or sheet protection are a convenient and easy contraception method. You can adopt that as and when required.
Always discuss your birth control options after an abortion as a part of post-abortion consultation.
Having an abortion at the best abortion hospital:
AHB has been the choicest abortion destination for women and girls from all walks of life. The hospital caters to safe and confidential abortion procedures with a highly professional and dedicated abortion team.
Moreover, you receive highly professional and non-judgmental abortion treatment. You can have a look at the hospital testimonials and Google reviews for independent analysis and learn from the experiences of past patients.
Schedule an appointment for safe, effective, legal and confidential abortion at American Hospital Bangalore (AHB). Being a premier boutique hospital, you can expect to receive personalized abortion care.
It is the best abortion experience that the hospital strives to give each patient so that they can resume their normal lives soon after the abortion.
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