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Physical side effects after having an abortion

Recovery after an abortion usually happens quickly. But it is different for every woman.

Around 2 or 3 women in every 100 who have an abortion at less than 9 weeks pregnant may experience physical and emotional side effects.

After an abortion

After having an abortion, you may have:

  • period-type pains
  • stomach cramps
  • vaginal bleeding

This is normal and is usually nothing to worry about. It should start to improve after a few days, but can last for 1 to 2 weeks.

The bleeding is usually like normal period bleeding. But you may also pass some small blood clots.

After a surgical abortion, you might not have any bleeding until your next period is due.

If you have a medical abortion, you may have side effects from the medicine such as nausea and diarrhoea. These side effects usually stop within 3 days.

Bleeding is usually heavier after a medical abortion than a surgical abortion. The bleeding should reduce every day. Pregnancy symptoms should disappear within 72 hours.

General anaesthetic and conscious sedation medicine can also cause side effects.

After an abortion you can:

  • take ibuprofen to help with any pain or discomfort
  • use sanitary towels or pads rather than tampons until the bleeding has stopped

Urgent advice: Talk to your GP or doctor immediately if

you experience any signs of a problem, such as:

  • severe pain that cannot be controlled with painkillers such as ibuprofen
  • continuous and heavy bleeding that soaks 2 or more pads in an hour for 2 hours in a row
  • tummy pain or discomfort that is not helped by medicine, rest, a hot water bottle or a heat pad
  • a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher
  • discoloured or smelly discharge from your vagina
  • signs or a feeling that you are still pregnant, such as nausea and sore breasts
  • no bleeding 24 hours after using all of the second medicine you've been given (if you had a medical abortion)

You can also call the My Options support service on freephone 1800 828 010. Nurses are available to take calls and give medical advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can tell you what to do if you have any of these symptoms.

Next period

Your next period should begin around 4 weeks after your abortion.

If you have not had a period 4 weeks after your treatment, contact the My Options support service on 1800 828 010.

Returning to normal activities

Most women will be fit and well enough to return to normal activities within 1 or 2 days. But everyone is different.


You should rest until you feel able to return to your normal routine. Plan to have 1 or 2 days off after an abortion so that you can rest.


It is best not to travel within 24 hours of having an abortion. If you must travel, make sure you know how to access emergency services at your destination. This is in case you have a complication.


You can have sex again when you feel ready. It will normally not be painful.

But you can get pregnant almost immediately after an abortion. Use contraception if you do not want to get pregnant.


You can take a bath or shower as normal after an abortion. But take care if you have a bath within 24 hours of having a general anaesthetic. You will need to make sure someone is around to keep an eye on you. This is in case you are still feeling drowsy.

Page last reviewed: 28 October 2022
Next review due: 28 October 2025