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Abortion Side Effects & Aftercare

Looking after yourself after an abortion.

When you leave our clinic, your care does not end.

Recovery time after an abortion will be different for everyone, but you'll usually feel better within a few days.

However, if you feel like you’re experiencing any problems – either physical or emotional – after the treatment, we’re here to help. You can call our aftercare line 24 hours a day and talk to one of our friendly, experienced nurses.

Contact us for a confidential chat

Your aftercare booklet

These booklets will give you the aftercare information and advice you need after your abortion.

We have aftercare booklets for medical and surgical abortion.

It is important that you read this information.

If you need to speak to an aftercare nurse, call 0345 122 1441.

How does a medical abortion work and what are the side effects?

Abortions are very safe when performed or assisted by specialists. However, any medical treatment or surgical procedure carries some side effects.

In this short video, Dr Sarah Salkeld, Clinical Lead for Early Medical Abortion at MSI Reproductive Choices UK, explains how medical abortions work: the difference between the two abortion tablets (mifepristone and misoprostol) and what to expect in terms of side effects.

MSI UK nurse handing an abortion booklet to a woman in clinic

What can you expect after an abortion?

It’s good to know what’s normal after an abortion, so you know what to expect and what to look out for.

Everyone will have a different experience after either a medical or surgical abortion has been completed. Usually you will experience some bleeding (ranging from spotting to heavy clots). This can continue up to your next period and may be unpredictable, irregular, or prolonged. It's important you use sanitary towels and not tampons or menstrual cups as this will help to prevent infection. It’s also normal to have crampy pains (cramps).

Pregnancy symptoms will start to settle after a couple of days. Nausea and vomiting are one of the first symptoms to disappear after treatment. It is common to have tender breasts for several weeks.

Different feelings may come up for people after an abortion, including relief and sadness. These are all normal things to feel. We’re here to talk at any time and can arrange post-abortion counselling, either face-to-face or over the phone. If you have any concerns call our aftercare line to speak to a nurse.

MSI UK call center agents smile looking at screen and wearing headsets

How long does the pain last after an abortion?

Following an abortion, cramps can be constant or can come and go.

It's not unusual to continue to get cramping on and off in the first 2 weeks after treatment.

Pain relief after abortion

We'll give you advice on pain relief tablets such as paracetamol, codeine, or ibuprofen. Please do not take aspirin as it can increase bleeding.

Here are some other things you can do to lessen the pain:

  • Apply a heat pad or (warm) hot water bottle wrapped in a towel or blanket to your lower abdomen.
  • Wear comfy, loose clothing.
  • Ensure you're comfortable and relaxed at home.

If you have any worries about any pain you experience following your abortion, you can call our aftercare line on 0345 122 1441 any time to speak to a nurse.

MSI UK nurse wearing mask holding contraception pills

Important things to remember after an abortion

Here are some important things to bear in mind:

  • Please wait for 3 weeks after your abortion before taking a pregnancy test. This is because some pregnancy hormones can be present for up to 3 weeks following an abortion, which can give a positive test result even though you are no longer pregnant. If the pregnancy test is positive please call our aftercare line as soon as possible.
  • You should not have a bath for 48 hours after your abortion as this could increase the risk of infection. You can have a shower, but as you may be feeling light-headed, for your safety please do not have a shower without someone there with you.
  • It’s important to know that it is possible to get pregnant almost immediately following an abortion. If you do not want to become pregnant, we recommend that you have contraception ready for after your treatment. We can talk to you about different types of contraception to help you find a method that suits you.
Learn more about Contraception

If you experience serious symptoms

If you experience any of the symptoms below, call us straight away:

  • Very heavy bleeding that soaks through more than 2 sanitary pads (suitable for a heavy flow) an hour.
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort that is not helped by pain relief medication, or by heat pad.
  • Vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant.
  • Fever lasting more than 24 hours.

If you experience any of these symptoms, please call us immediately on 0345 122 1441

Looking for more information about abortion aftercare?

You’ll find answers to the questions people ask most about abortion aftercare here. If you can’t find the information you need, please call us on 0345 122 1441.


Sepsis can be caused by an infection in any part of the body. Sepsis after an abortion is rare, but very serious. Symptoms of sepsis can be like having the flu at first. If you develop any of the signs below it is important to seek urgent medical advice:

  • Feeling dizzy or faint 
  • Confusion 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Extreme shivering 
  • Severe muscle pain 
  • Being unable to urinate
  • Severe breathlessness 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Cold, clammy and pale or blotchy skin

If you think you have any signs of Sepsis seek urgent medical advice.

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