female having cramps from periods after abortion

Abortions or medical termination of pregnancy are low-risk medical procedures to end a pregnancy. It is normal to experience some bleeding right after having an abortion, but a female’s first period will usually occur several weeks after medical termination of pregnancy.

Read on to learn what females can expect to happen to their menstrual cycle after a medical and surgical abortion. 

What is post-abortion bleeding?

Many females experience some bleeding after an abortion. This is medically termed as postabortion bleeding. A female may need to use pads or a menstrual cup for this bleeding. This kind of bleeding is heavier for medical abortions than surgical abortion. The post-abortion bleeding usually lasts for 1-2 weeks. A female should keep track of how much bleeding she is having and for how many days after the abortion. In case of severe or prolonged post-abortion bleeding, it is necessary to contact your gynecologist

Bleeding after a medical abortion

Medical and surgical abortions are the two main types of abortions.  

Medical abortion is when the gynecologist gives abortion pill(s) to a female to terminate the pregnancy. This type of abortion can be done in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

During a medical abortion, the gynecologist gives a female two pills:

  • Mifepristone- This pill is given to stop the pregnancy from developing.
  • Misoprostol- This pill is given to trigger the uterus to expel the pregnancy tissues.

Misoprostol causes uterine contractions, which force the pregnancy tissues (conception) to pass out through the vagina. This procedure results in bleeding, which is usually similar to having a heavy period. Some females experience heavier bleeding, which may contain large blood clots.

A female may experience spotting or light bleeding for up to 2 weeks after the abortion, when the pregnancy tissue passes out.

Also Read- A Woman’s Guide to having an Abortion 

Bleeding after Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortions usually take place after 10 weeks of pregnancy. Surgical abortions are of further two types:

  • Vacuum aspiration- Involves terminating the pregnancy by the use of suction.
  • D&E (dilation and evacuation)- In this procedure, the cervix is dilated with surgical forceps and the pregnancy tissues are removed with suction.

Gynecologists usually use vacuum aspiration for abortion up to around 14–16 weeks of pregnancy. After that, dilation and evacuation are recommended for termination of pregnancy.

Surgical abortions can also cause post-abortion bleeding similar to a normal period. Bleeding after a surgical abortion typically lasts around 1–2 weeks. Some females may experience light spotting until their next period.

Also Read- Hysteroscopy- What all to expect?

How does abortion affect the period cycle

female having cramps from periods after abortion

A female will usually have her period for 4 to 8 weeks after having an abortion.  The start date of a female’s period after abortion is likely to depend on whether she is using any form of birth control. Periods after abortion also depend on the type of birth control the female is using.  

If a female’s periods do not start within 8 weeks after an abortion, she should consult her gynecologist.

Does abortion cause irregular periods?

Various forms of birth control methods used can affect the regularity of periods after an abortion. If a female typically has irregular periods, she may continue to experience these after having an abortion.

An abortion can lead to emotional and physical stress, which can also affect a female’s menstrual cycle. Stress is a major influencing factor that can have an impact on the regularity of periods after abortion.

If a female starts experiencing irregular periods after an abortion but had a normal regular menstrual cycle before that, gynecological consultation becomes necessary.

First period after abortion

After a surgical abortion, a female’s first period may be shorter than usual. The abortion procedure fully empties the uterus. As a result, there are fewer tissues to expel, which causes a lighter period.

A female’s first period after abortion may be longer than usual. This can happen possibly as the treatment uses hormones, which may impact the length of the menstrual cycle. The first period after the abortion period can also be heavier in some cases as the female’s body may have additional tissues to expel after the abortion.

Using pads during the first period after an abortion lets a female monitor the flow. 

The second period after abortion

The second period after abortion is likely to return to how the female’s periods were before the abortion.

Some females may notice that it takes 2 or 3 cycles for their periods to return back to normal after undergoing an abortion. So, if your periods do not return back to normal even after 2 to 3 menstrual cycles, get in touch with your gynecologist. 

When to see a gynecologist after an abortion?
woman consulting a gynecologist after abortion

  • If a female experiences very heavy bleeding after having an abortion or experiences pain that is not manageable with pain medication, she should immediately speak to her gynecologist.

  • Blood clots in periods, up to the size of lemon are normal in case of periods after abortion. Blood clots that are larger than that are something to discuss with a gynecologist.

  • Symptoms including dizziness, sweating, and nausea during or after abortion are normal. However, females who feel very faint or have a high fever should talk to their gynecologist.

Click here to consult a gynecologist online. 

Also Read-

What effect will Coronavirus outbreak have on Medical Termination of Pregnancy services?

Safe and Legal Medical Termination of Pregnancy at Pristyn Care


Is it normal to have late periods after abortion?

Yes, it is normal to have late periods after abortion. It is majorly because of the hormonal fluctuations involved in abortion. Also, the first period may be heavier or lighter (depending upon the abortion procedure) than what you used to have before the abortion. 

How long does it take for period to become regular abortion?

The first two periods after abortion may be lighter or heavier than the usual before an abortion. Normally, it is by 3rd period that the cycle tends to become regulated. But if it does not regulate even after 3rd cycle, then it is a matter of concern to be consulted with the doctor. 

What are the signs of an incomplete abortion?

In an incomplete abortion, some pregnancy tissues remain in the uterus. It can be a discomforting situation.

Following are the signs of incomplete abortion-

  • heavy bleeding that may require you to change the pad in 1-2 hours.
  • Prolonged bleeding that does not slow down
  • Abdominal cramps and contractions
  • Fever and chills
What helps you recover faster after an abortion?

Do the following things to recover faster after undergoing abortion (medical or surgical)

  • Take proper bed rest for 1-2 days after undergoing an abortion. 
  • Do not indulge in strenuous physical activities for 1-2 weeks. Doing so can aggravate the pain and cramping.
  • Be easy with yourself and do not stress out as it is normal to feel nauseated and pass blood clots for a few days.
  • Ask your gynecologist about when is it safe to have sex after an abortion. Doctors usually recommend refrain from sexual intercourse for about 2 weeks.

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