An in-clinic abortion is a minor medical procedure to end a pregnancy. The most common type is vacuum aspiration. The doctor puts a tube in the uterus. The tube uses gentle suction to remove the contents of the uterus. This is done in a clinic by a doctor who has special training.
What can you expect as you recover?
You may have cramps and light bleeding for up to 2 weeks after an in-clinic abortion. Most people can return to normal activities 1 to 2 days after the procedure.
Carefully follow all of your doctor's instructions after you've had an abortion.
If you didn't get instructions, follow this general advice.
- Do not rinse your vagina with fluids (douche).
This could increase your risk of infections that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Take any medicines your doctor has prescribed.
Take them exactly as instructed.
- Ask your doctor when you can return to normal activities or strenuous exercise.
Most people can return to normal activities 1 to 2 days after an abortion.
- Ask your doctor when it's okay to have vaginal sex.
You can get pregnant in the weeks after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about birth control options.
When to call a doctor
Your doctor will give you information about what to expect after an abortion. Normal symptoms that most often occur include:
- Irregular bleeding or spotting for as long as the first few weeks.
- Cramping for up to a few weeks.
- Nausea and vomiting for 4 to 6 hours after using abortion pills.
- Fever for up to 4 hours after using abortion pills.
Follow your doctor's instructions on what to do at home.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have severe vaginal bleeding along with lightheadedness or nausea.
- You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.
Call your doctor now if you have any of these symptoms after an abortion:
- Severe bleeding. Any abortion usually causes 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 a row.
- 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 belly that isn't relieved by pain medicine, rest, or heat
- Hot flushes or a fever that lasts longer than 4 hours
- Vomiting lasting more than 4 to 6 hours
- Sudden belly swelling or fast heart rate
- Vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad
Call your doctor for an appointment if you have any of these symptoms after a recent abortion:
- Bleeding (not spotting) for longer than 2 weeks
- No menstrual period within 6 weeks after the procedure
- Still feeling pregnant or having pregnancy symptoms
- Signs of depression. Hormonal changes after a pregnancy can cause depression that requires treatment.
- You are not getting better as expected.
Unless you are having problems, you probably won't need a follow-up exam after an in-clinic abortion.
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rebecca H. Allen MD, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine