Abortion Side Effects Part 2: When to Call the Doctor

Thanks to modern medicine, the abortion procedure has become extremely safe. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion research organization, there were 926,000 abortions performed in the U.S. in 2014. Early first trimester abortions do not present any long-term health risks, and the potential for dangerous complications is extremely low. However, staying alert is crucial.

After receiving an abortion, it’s common for patients to experience light to moderate discomfort. However, recognizing when that discomfort crosses over the edge and becomes a complication is imperative. Read on to learn more about abortion side effects, and when they can present danger to the patient.


What are the signs that something may be wrong after an abortion?

1. Heavy Bleeding: 2 Pads per hour

After an abortion, some degree of bleeding should be expected. Women who receive surgical abortions experience light bleeding, often less than a standard period. Women who receive medical abortions also experience bleeding, often heavier than surgical abortions. However, heavy bleeding can indicate that the patient has experienced an abortion complication.

Tracking the amount of pads soaked per day in the weeks following the procedure is important. If you soak two pads per hour for two hours in a row, then you should contact a doctor. Bleeding heavily for 12 hours or more is also a cause for concern.

Because it can be difficult to distinguish between normal and abnormal amounts of blood, caution is the best strategy. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor if you feel that you are bleeding excessively.


2. Cramping: Pain persists after taking painkillers

Abdominal pain should be expected following an abortion. This abdominal pain is similar to the pain that many women experience during periods. Additionally, it can recur through about a two week period after the abortion.

To treat this pain, we recommend taking mild painkillers, and possibly using a heated pad as well. If the pain persists (or grows worse) after these treatments, then that may indicate a complication– often an infection. If you experience abdominal cramps beyond two weeks after the procedure, or the pain persists after taking medication, contact your gynecologist.


3. First Period Following: Excessive bleeding

The timing of the first period following a Long Island abortion procedure varies from patient to patient. Generally, though, the first period usually occurs 4-8 weeks after an abortion.

Distinguishing between post-abortion bleeding and the menstrual period is complicated. But, doing so is critical. Often, you can discern between standard period bleeding and recovery bleeding by examining other symptoms.

When patients do have their first post-abortion period, paying attention to warning signs is critical. These warning signs include:

  • Continuous heavy bleeding
  • Passing tissue
  • Blood clots

If your first period is beyond abnormal after an abortion, then you should contact your gynecologist.


4. Vaginal Discharge: Abnormal odor or pain

The vagina is self-cleaning, and constantly produces fluids intended to cleanse harmful bacteria. Because of this, vaginal discharges are fairly common. Brown discharges are colored this way because the vagina is washing away blood from a period. The same principle applies after a Long Island abortion.

Abnormal vaginal discharges, which may be painful, itchy, or odorous, are a cause for concern. If you have an abnormal vaginal discharge, contact your doctor immediately to take a corrective action.


5. Positive Pregnancy Test: Long after abortion procedure

Long Island abortion doctors are extremely thorough in administering the procedure. In fact, part of the standard abortion procedure is double checking that the procedure was successful. Patients who receive a surgical abortion have a sonogram, to ensure that the pregnancy was fully terminated. Patients who choose to have a medical abortion procedure also have a follow-up appointment.

Some women who receive an abortion procedure are understandably concerned about the outcome. To ensure that the procedure was completely effective, many women choose to take a pregnancy test. However, this is not always a great idea.

While pregnant, the body secretes the pregnancy hormone hCG, which pregnancy tests detect. It can take over a month for this hormone to completely disappear. So, even after an abortion, pregnancy tests could yield a false positive. If pregnancy tests are still positive long after the abortion procedure, then consult a doctor immediately.



Abortions at Stony Brook Women’s Health: What to Expect

At Stony Brook Women’s Health, our mission is to provide safe abortions in a comfortable, accepting environment. We take every measure possible to ensure our patients’ safety, and remain accessible to patients long after the abortion procedure.