It is normal to have cramping for a few days after an abortion. You can take medication such as ibuprofen, which is normally used for period cramps. Ibuprofen, Advil, and Motrin are different names for the same medication. You may take 800 mg. of ibuprofen every 6 hours for cramping. For example, you would take 4 of the 200 mg. tablets of Advil to get 800 mg. of ibuprofen. If you are allergic to ibuprofen, you may take 1000 mg. of Tylenol instead. Do not take aspirin -- aspirin increases bleeding. A hot water bottle or heating pad also helps relieve cramping.
Cramping is not always a sign of a problem. Sometimes cramping can mean there are blood clots in your uterus, you have a strained muscle near your uterus, or your uterus is contracting to its normal size.
Other ways to relieve cramping are:
- Massage your abdomen. Push down starting from below your belly button towards your pubic hair. You can lie down or sit on the toilet. This massage may help you to pass blood clots that might be causing your cramping.
- You can lie down on the side that hurts and pull the bottom knee up towards your chest, or put your leg on a chair and lean into the direction of the pain. If you get relief from this, the pain is most likely due to muscle strain and can be treated by resting.
If you feel hot or have cramping, take your temperature. IF YOUR TEMPERATURE IS OVER 100.4 DEGREES, CALL THE FEMINIST WOMEN'S HEALTH CENTER’S CLIFF VALLEY CLINIC. Fever can be a sign of infection. Most infections can be treated with medication and do not require hospitalization. Early treatment is important. Intense cramping that is not alleviated by ibuprofen or Tylenol or tenderness of the abdomen can also be signs of infection.
If the amount of bleeding increases to soaking more than one maxi pad in one hour or if you begin to pass blood clots larger than a golf ball, call the Feminist Women's Health Center.
Please take your medication as follows (unless otherwise advised):
For surgical abortions, a prescription for an antibiotic will be provided to protect your uterus and tubes from infection. Please take this medication as directed and after eating so that it will not cause stomach upset and nausea.
Methergine is sometimes given for uterine bleeding. This medication will help contract your uterus and control your bleeding after your abortion.This medication may cause cramping. It is OK to take ibuprofen or Tylenol with this medication. Once the entire course of Methergine is taken as prescribed, the uterus will relax, which may cause bleeding that has been described as a gush of blood several hours later or the following day. This is normal.
Following your abortion, your breasts may remain tender for as long as two weeks. It is also possible for milk to come into your breasts. This is more likely to occur if you were more than 12 weeks in the pregnancy, measuring from your last menstrual period.
If this occurs, we suggest the following:
- Place cabbage leaves on your breasts and cover with a supportive bra. Cabbage leaves should be changed every 2 hours until tenderness is relieved.
- Wear a tight fitting bra (even while you sleep).
- Do not stimulate your breasts.
- Do not squeeze or express the milky fluid.
- Tylenol or ibuprofen may be taken for discomfort.
- Ice compresses on your breasts for ten minutes every 2 hours may also provide relief.
Do's & Dont's
From our many years of experience as an abortion provider, and from the current recommendation of the National Abortion Federation, we advise you to do the following:
To protect your uterus and tubes from infection:
- You should not have sexual intercourse for 2 weeks. However, when you do resume having intercourse, have your partner wear a condom and/or be certain that you are using some type of birth control. You may be more fertile after an abortion.
- Use sanitary napkins only; no tampons for 2 weeks.
- You may take a shower and wash your hair, but no tub baths for 2 weeks.
- No swimming for 2 weeks.
To make sure you recover completely:
- You may go to work or school on the day following the procedure. However, REMEMBER no strenuous exercise or heavy lifting over 50 pounds because this can cause you to bleed more.
- Be sure to take all of the medications given to you according to the directions on the label.
- We do not advise douching in general, but especially refrain from douching until after your follow-up exam.
- All of your pregnancy signs and symptoms (except breast tenderness) should decrease within 48-72 hours.
- Your next period should start four to eight weeks after your abortion. If you do not get your period after 8 weeks, call the Feminist Women's Health Center.
- It is possible to get pregnant right after your abortion, so if pregnancy is not desired, a method of birth control is recommended.
Aftercare Check-Up at Feminist Women's Health Center’s Cliff Valley Clinic
Be sure that you have a post-abortion aftercare check-up in four to six weeks after your abortion, even if you feel perfectly well. There is a modest charge for this follow-up appointment at the Feminist Women’s Health Center if you schedule within three weeks.
The follow-up visit includes a repeat non-sensitive urine pregnancy test to be sure your abortion is complete. A pelvic exam will also be done to be sure that your uterus has returned to its pre-pregnant or non-pregnant size and that there are no signs of infection. We can also discuss your birth cotrol needs.
If you think you are having a post-abortion emergency: severe cramping not alleviated by usual methods, heavy bleeding, or fever (see explanation), you can call the Feminist Women's Health Center’s Cliff Valley Clinic at (404) 728-7900 any time. This number enables you to reach a Feminist Women's Health Center Cliff Valley Clinic staff member. Please note that our facility is not open on a 24-hour basis.
When you call (404) 728-7900 after business hours, an answering service will accept your call and then contact us by phone or beeper. When speaking with the service explain that you had an abortion at our clinic and that you want to speak with a nurse. They will take your phone number and contact us. A nurse or on-call staff member will return your call in approximately 20 minutes.
In case of an Emergency
If you have any emergency, contact the Feminist Women's Health Center ’s Cliff Valley Clinic first. Most abortion complications can be treated at the FHWC, and in many cases an appointment within 24 hours is sufficient. We cannot be medically or financially responsible for any care you receive except through our office. If you do contact your private physician, and he/she feels that treatment may be necessary, please have him/her call FWHC’s Cliff Valley Clinic for details of your procedure.