Abortion - surgical - aftercare

Alternate Names


You have had a surgical abortion. This is a procedure that ends pregnancy by removing the fetus and placenta from your womb (uterus).

What to Expect

You will likely recover without problems. It may take a few days to feel well.

You may have cramps that feel like menstrual cramps for a few days.

Your normal period will likely return in 4-6 weeks.

It is normal to feel sad or depressed after this procedure. Seek help from your health care provider or a counselor if these feelings do not go away. A family member or friend can also provide comfort.


To relieve discomfort or pain in the abdomen:

  • Take a warm bath. You may also apply a heating pad set on low. Or apply a hot water bottle filled with warm water.
  • Take over-the-counter painkiller as instructed.


  • Rest as needed.
  • Do not do any strenuous activity the first few days after the procedure. This includes not lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds (about the weight of a1 gallon milk jug).
  • Also, do not do any aerobic activity, including running or working out. Light housework is fine.

Other things to help speed your recovery include:

  • Use pads to absorb bleeding and drainage from the vagina. Change the pads every 2-4 hours to avoid infection.
  • Do not use tampons or put anything in the vagina, including douching.
  • Do not have vaginal intercourse for 2-3 weeks, or until cleared by your healthcare provider.
  • Take any other medicine, such as an antibiotic, as instructed.
  • Begin using birth control starting right after the procedure. It is possible to get pregnant again even before your normal period resumes. Contraception (birth control) can help prevent unplanned pregnancies. Be aware though, unplanned pregnancies can occur even when you use birth control.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have vaginal bleeding that increases or you need to change your pads more than every 2-4 hours.
  • You have continued pain or pregnancy symptoms.
  • You have signs of infection, including fever that does not go away, vaginal drainage with a foul odor, vaginal drainage that looks like pus, pain or tenderness in your abdomen.


Jensen JT, Mishell Jr DR. Family planning:contraception, sterilization, and pregnancy termination. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA,Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap13.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 11/8/2012
  • Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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