After an abortion, every person will feel different, and that’s okay! There are a wide range of experiences and emotions that are completely normal during and after an abortion. At carafem, we will meet you where you’re at through every step of the process to ensure you are receiving the kind of high-quality care you want and deserve.
We hear a lot of questions from folks after their abortion so we’ve compiled the most commonly asked questions and we are here to give you answers on ongoing pregnancy symptoms, your period, when you can have sex, and birth control after you have an abortion.
How long will I feel pregnancy symptoms after my abortion?
After taking the abortion pills, pregnancy symptoms begin to resolve relatively quickly. Nausea is usually the first pregnancy symptom that goes away, typically within 24-48 hours of taking the medications. This is followed by feeling more energy and a decrease in other pregnancy symptoms you might have experienced.
Breast tenderness is often the last symptom to go away and can last as long as a week to 10 days. Tylenol or ibuprofen and wearing a snug-fitting bra or even cold packs can help with this as needed. If your pregnancy symptoms are persisting longer, or becoming more severe, you can always call us at 855-SAY-CARA to discuss follow-up care in more detail.
When will my period return after my abortion?
Most people experience heavy bleeding and pass some blood clots on the day they take their misoprostol medication, but it’s also normal to have some ongoing bleeding off and on for a few weeks.
Just as every person has different experiences with their period, every person’s experience with bleeding after an abortion is different—some people have bleeding similar to a period for about a week, then some lighter spotting off and on for a few weeks after that. Some people stop bleeding in as little as 48 hours after using the pills and never see much more bleeding until their next period. Both of these experiences are normal and so is almost any off and on bleeding in between. For most people, bleeding stops by the time you see your first period. Your carafem medical team will be available to you at any time if you have concerns about your own personal post abortion experience.
Your period should return within about 4-6 weeks after taking the medications, and your first cycle might be lighter or heavier than you’re used to. We do suggest using regular full-sized maxi pads immediately after your abortion to better know how much you are bleeding, but you can use tampons, menstrual cups, pads, period underwear, or any other period products that you prefer as soon as you feel certain your bleeding is manageable. There is no medical evidence to support any increased risk from choosing to leave pads as soon as you feel ready to.
When can I return to work / school after my abortion?
You can resume normal activities as soon as you want to after your abortion! We recommend planning to rest the day you take your misoprostol pills if possible, because you will likely experience heavy bleeding and cramping, and might experience other symptoms like nausea, chills, and diarrhea.
Some people find that they feel completely normal as early as later the same day or the day after taking the medications, while others prefer to take a few days to rest. Everyone is different, so listen to your body—you are the expert on your own life.
How soon can I have sex after my abortion?
Whenever you are ready, you can resume any and all kinds of sexual activity! There is no specific time you need to wait before having sex, but if you’re engaging in sexual activity that can lead to pregnancy, just remember your fertility returns quickly after an abortion, and you can become pregnant again.
Orgasms can cause uterine contractions though, which sometimes lead to an increase in bleeding. This is generally okay. If you experience bleeding that is considered “too heavy,” which we define in our after-care instructions, you might want to slow down a bit and listen to how you feel.
Speaking of orgasms, dopamine released during orgasms can actually lead to decreased pain from cramps. So, that can be a reason to consider some personal pain relief when you feel ready. Looking for some safe recommendations on how to reach that “O?” Don’t worry, here are 7 sex toys that won’t get you pregnant. 😉
How soon can I get pregnant after my abortion?
For a lot of people, the last thing they want to think about after an abortion is becoming pregnant again! Because you can resume sexual activity shortly after a medication abortion, it’s important to know when you can become pregnant again so you can make informed decisions about your reproductive future.
You can become pregnant very quickly after a medication abortion, sometimes in as early as a week after taking your medications. An abortion has absolutely no impact on your future fertility—so taking mifepristone and misoprostol will not impact your ability to become pregnant again or to safely carry a pregnancy to term in the future.
Knowing that you’re able to become pregnant again even before your period returns, you might consider using extra caution and including using a new form of contraception if you are not interested in being pregnant. carafem can help with these options too.
When should I start birth control after my abortion?
Depending on what contraception you want to use, you can start as early as on the same day as your abortion! For contraceptive options like the birth control pill or the birth control patch, you can start using them the same day or day after taking your medications. As a matter of fact, you will be protected against pregnancy right away if you start a hormonal contraceptive within a week of using the abortion pill.
For some contraceptive options like an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD), you can have it inserted as soon as it’s certain your abortion is complete, usually within about a week.
When discussing contraceptive options with your provider, keep in mind that you will likely have a positive pregnancy test result for 4-5 weeks after an abortion. There is no medical reason to wait for a period before starting a method of your choice. If you’re interested in learning more about all the different contraception options that are available, a non-profit organization called Bedsider has great information about starting birth control after an abortion and lets you compare different types of contraception to find the best option for your life! We recommend talking to your provider for more information.
More Resources on After Abortion Self-Care
- We’ve made a helpful guide on symptoms to watch for & recovery tips.
- We also have a guide with self-care tips after the abortion pill.
As always, if you or someone you know wants an abortion, birth control, or STI testing and treatment, you can schedule an appointment online or call us at 1-855-SAY-CARA.