How Long Does The Pain Last After An Abortion
If you have a medical abortion, you will feel some cramping and spotting when they give you the first dose of medication. It is normal to experience this side effect. Your body will begin to pass through the pregnancy as soon as the first dose takes affect. As long as there are no complications, most women don’t need any further care once they’ve passed the pregnancy tissue. This includes time spent at home or in the hospital. The cramping and bleeding can last for several hours. Most people finish passing the pregnancy tissue in 4-5 hours, but it may take longer. The cramping and bleeding slow down after the pregnancy tissue comes out. You may have cramping on and off for 1 or 2 more days. You can take pain medicine like ibuprofen about 30 minutes before you take the second medicine, misoprostol, to help with cramps. You can also take anti-nausea medicine if your doctor or nurse gives it to you. Don’t take aspirin, because it can make you bleed more.
After you leave the clinic, you should not drive yourself home. Ask someone else to bring you home in their car. If you must go by yourself, call ahead to find out where you might get sick. Do not drink alcohol. Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) only for fever or headache relief. Do not use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These include prescription medicines such as Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Naproxen sodium (Naprosyn), Voltaren Gel, and naproxin (Aleve). They can cause serious stomach bleeding during an abortion. Call your doctor if you develop severe nausea or vomiting that interferes with your ability to eat or absorb fluids. Also call your doctor if heavy vaginal bleeding continues after 24 hours or if you experience chest or abdominal pains.
You may be able to reduce the amount of bleeding by taking stool softener, laxatives, over-the-counter medications called antacids, or herbal products. If these measures do not work, ask your provider to prescribe Misoprostol which causes contractions and uterine muscle relaxation to stop the flow of blood from the uterus back into the vagina. Contractions will usually start around 45 minutes after receiving the injection of the first drug. The complete process usually lasts 3-6 hours.
Once you return home, you can expect another period of cramping within 48 hours. Bleeding usually stops within two weeks, but it could continue for up to three weeks. You may notice a small amount of mucus discharge at the opening of the cervix. A woman’s menstrual cycle may become lighter or shorter during the next few months. Heavy bleeding is rare. Rarely does it occur for more than seven weeks. If bleeding doesn’t stop within two weeks, contact your health care provider immediately.
Your Provider Will Give You More Information…
In addition to the above information, your physician will discuss what types of tests and procedures you’ll need, how safe it is, and how often you’ll need follow-ups. In general, the procedure itself is very safe. About 0.2 percent of patients who had abortions performed in 2007 experienced life-threatening conditions. Nearly all deaths were caused by problems related to anesthesia. Of those cases, one was due to failure of equipment, four were caused by errors made by providers, and six were caused by mistakes that occurred during surgery. One death involved a patient whose heart stopped while she was under anesthesia for the procedure. All other cases died either because of anesthesia or surgical error.
Most doctors recommend having a postabortion checkup within ten days. During this visit, your doctor or midwife will examine the area to ensure everything went well and to check for infection. He or she may also want to perform additional testing. Some physicians advise checking your cervical mucus daily until five days after the procedure to see whether it has returned to its pre-pregnancy level. Cervical secretions normally dry up within 12 hours following a miscarriage or abortion. However, if heavy bleeding occurs, then your physician may order a test known as “cervicovaginal lavage” to determine whether there are signs of infection. This type of testing involves inserting a tampon filled with fluid into the vagina to sample material inside. Another way to collect samples is using a speculum to spread open the lower portion of the vagina to allow for better viewing.
A pelvic examination is sometimes done at the same time to look for pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to scarring. Your doctor may also suggest antibiotics to prevent infections. Other routine tests may include:
* Cultures to detect bacteria that may cause an infection. Your physician may send a urine specimen to his lab for culture. Blood cultures are sent to the lab for bacterial count.
* Tests to rule out STDs, especially gonorrhea and chlamydia.
* Papanicolaou smear tests to screen for cancer cells in the cervix.
* Hormone levels to check for possible hormonal abnormalities.
* Ultrasounds to monitor fetal development.
* CT scans or MRIs to evaluate suspected pelvic fractures.
An ultrasound may be recommended after the procedure to confirm that the fetus is gone. A new image may also be taken later to show changes in the size of the uterus. Follow-up visits are important to assess recovery. Women may need to stay overnight in the hospital for observation after the first 24 hours. Depending upon your personal situation, many clinics provide free services to encourage regular attendance for follow-up appointments.
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