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Surgical abortion recovery and aftercare

MSI UK clinic recovery room.

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What to expect after your surgical abortion

If you have had a surgical abortion with us, you will find all the information you need for your aftercare and recovery on this page.

This includes information on treatment, travelling home after your abortion, side effects, and recovery after your abortion. Recovery time after an abortion will be different for everyone, but you’ll usually feel better within a few days.

Surgical abortion treatment and aftercare booklet

It’s important to read our surgical abortion aftercare booklet, which provides all the information you need to know about surgical abortion treatment and aftercare.

Surgical abortion treatment page

This surgical abortion recovery and aftercare page provides information on surgical abortion aftercare. Learn more about surgical abortion treatment at our dedicated surgical abortion page.

Advice for travelling home after a surgical abortion

After your treatment, you’ll spend some time in our recovery lounge having some light refreshments until you’re ready to go home.  
We recommend you go straight home and rest after your surgical abortion, and that someone takes you home and stays with you for 24 hours after the procedure. 
Please be aware of further advice below.

If you have had sedation or a general anaesthetic, someone else will need to drive you home. It isn’t safe for you to drive yourself.

After an abortion, there is an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT – blood clots developing in the legs) if you sit still for too long. We advise against travelling a long way the day of your treatment. If you are travelling by plan, make sure you walk around regularly during your flight. 

If you have any leg pain, leg swelling, chest pain, breathlessness, dizziness or fainting, either during or soon after the flight, please seek emergency medical attention.

What are the side effects of a surgical abortion?

Medical and surgical abortion carries some side effects, but these are usually short-lived. Any side effects you experience will depend on your procedure and the anaesthetic used.
Click on the tabs below to read more about what to expect with pain and bleeding after your surgical abortion. 

– Drowsiness – it’s important you don’t drive, sign important documents (such as contracts) or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours after having an anaesthetic. Some car insurance specifies you shouldn’t drive for 48 hours after an anaesthetic, so please check with your insurance provider.  
– Nausea and vomiting should settle within 24 hours following sedation or a general anaesthetic.  
– You may develop some bruising and pain where the cannula was inserted in your hand, but this usually settles within a week or two  
– You may feel some soreness in the vein where the anaesthetic was injected but this usually settles within a few hours. 

Cramping pain is normal – it can be constant or come and go which may last up to two weeks.  

You may also feel some soreness in the vein where the anaesthetic was injected but this usually settles within a few hours.  

If you are in discomfort, you may want to take some pain relief tablets, such as paracetamol or codeine. 

– Taking ibuprofen until 12 hours after your procedure, if you had the painkiller suppository. 
– Pain relief that contains aspirin as well, as it can increase bleeding. 

Here are some things you can do to reduce 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 your pain has still not been reduced after following this advice, please call our 24-hour aftercare line on 0345 122 1441

It is normal to have some bleeding after your surgical abortion. This may be heavier than a normal period, with small clots and can last for up to two weeks. If it lasts for longer, please call our 24-hour aftercare line on 0345 122 1441. 

Your first period will usually return between four to eight weeks following a successful abortion. It is not uncommon for your first few periods to be heavier and last longer than usual. Click on the link below to read more about what to expect during your period after an abortion.

When will I get my period after an abortion? 

Recovery after your surgical abortion

It is important that you take all the time you need to look after yourself. We are here to support you. Click on the tabs below to see our recommendations to help your recovery after a surgical abortion.

We recommend you use the sanitary wear you are most comfortable with.

Drink plenty of water and don’t drink alcohol for 48 hours after treatment.

Your vagina will clean itself with natural discharge. It’s best not to use a vaginal douche as this can disrupt the normal bacteria in the vagina and increase risk of infection. 

It is safe to have sex when you feel ready. Please remember that fertility returns quickly after an abortion. You can get pregnant again within a week after the abortion. 

If you have been given antibiotics, make sure you take all the tablets you are given as directed.

Our aftercare line

It is important you take all the time you need to look after yourself after your abortion, and we are here to help. We have a 24-hour dedicated aftercare line, where you can talk to one of our nurses about your aftercare and recovery.

Understanding complications after an abortion

Serious complications have warning signs. Please call us straight away on 0345 122 1441 if you experience: 

  • 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 a heat pad.
  • Vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant.
  • Feeling hot and shivery with a high temperature that is 38°C or above.
  • Generally feeling unwell. 

Sepsis can be caused by an infection in any part of the body. Sepsis after an abortion is rare, but very serious and you should be aware of the symptoms. 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 

Support after your surgical abortion

We are here to support you after your abortion. Find here more information about support available – including our counselling services, contraception services, and abortion stories from our clients.


Abortion counselling

As part of abortion care, counselling services are available any time you need to talk.


Post-abortion contraception

Learn more about contraception as part of your abortion care.

MSI Reproductive Choices UK 20230612_0680

Abortion stories

Read surgical and medical abortion stories from our clients.

Looking for more information about surgical abortion?

You’ll find answers to commonly asked questions about surgical abortion here. If you can’t find the information you need, please call us on 0345 300 8090.