By Paige Alexandria, a Counselor at Austin Women’s Health Center and volunteer at Jane’s Due Process
When I decided to get an abortion, the thing that I found most challenging (aside from the many abortion restrictions in the state of Texas) was finding medically accurate information about what I could expect before, during, and after my abortion. This shouldn’t have been a surprise due to the amount of misinformation and lies spread about abortion online.
This guide discusses what you can expect physically and emotionally after your abortion. It also includes resources if you want to talk to someone about your decision to have an abortion.
After a medical abortion, it is common to pass clots and experience bleeding for about 2 weeks, with the heaviest amount occurring as the pregnancy passes. For many people, the amount decreases each day after. However, the amount of bleeding varies from person to person. Bleeding can be intense with very strong cramping, or minimal bleeding with light to moderate cramping, like a period. A heating pad can be very helpful to use throughout the process as needed. Your clinic will provide you with a protocol for pain management, as well.
You may feel tired and a little sick. This is a normal side effect from the medication, but you can always call your provider with any concerns. You may also find yourself needing to access the toilet often during the process. When you’re in the bathroom, do not to judge the amount of bleeding based on what you see in the toilet. Instead, it’s important that you go by what you see in your pad, because it is most accurate. If you are concerned about the amount that you are bleeding, contact your health care provider to verify if what you are experiencing is normal.
Most people are able to return to their normal daily activities 1-2 days after a medical abortion. You will also have a follow-up appointment to address any concerns or to ask any questions with your healthcare provider.
Compared to a medical abortion, there is minimal bleeding after a surgical abortion. Most people only experience mild to moderate bleeding for several days, but spotting for 1-2 weeks is also possible. Discomfort from cramping can also occur, but can be managed with ibuprofen. If your pain if not being controlled by ibuprofen, call your health care provider to discuss your options.
Like a medical abortion, the amount of bleeding and cramping still varies from person to person. Most people are able to return to their normal daily activities the same or next day, and you may or may not have a follow-up appointment.
When can I expect my period to start again?
Your period can return after an abortion anywhere from 4-8 weeks. Some people may experience spotting until their next period. Your period after an abortion may also be heavier than usual. Let your healthcare provider know if you’re concerned about what you’re experiencing, or if you don’t think your period has returned yet.
How do I check in with myself emotionally?
After an abortion, it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. For many people, this is just related to your hormone levels decreasing, which means they are starting to return to their pre-pregnancy state. It’s also important to know that if you experience any uncomfortable feelings, that they don’t last and are not necessarily an indication that you made the wrong decision. Remembering the reasons why you decided to get an abortion can help you process these strong emotions.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, it can be helpful to determine what support networks are available to you. Start small by figuring out who is the person you feel most comfortable talking to and who can offer you non-judgmental support. If the person that you want to tell is anti-abortion, this is not the person you want to talk to right now. It’s important to confide in someone who makes you feel safe and will not disempower you.
Additionally, if you obtained a judicial bypass with our organization, you can always reach out to your case manager by text or phone. If you misplaced your case manager’s phone number, you can call our 24/7 hotline at 866-999-5263 or send us a direct message (DM) on social media to request that they contact you. You can also request to speak to a Peer Support Leader.
Where can I go to receive confidential support after my abortion?
For many people, the feelings they experience after an abortion resolve on their own with minimal intervention. It’s also okay if that’s not the case for you! If you are feeling isolated in your experience, it can be helpful to read or listen to stories about other young people who also had to get a judicial bypass for abortion in Texas.
Escaping Abuse (And Never Returning): Meet Lana
Deception and Trickery at a Fake Abortion Clinic: Meet Talia
Being a Teen Mom and Having an Abortion: Meet Destiny
Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Forced Birth: Meet Gabriela
Hopelessness and Fear of Family: Meet Nicole
Shocking Invasions of Privacy: Meet Callie
Abortion and Religious Coercion: Meet Zoey
There are also confidential & anonymous hotline resources where you can discuss your abortion with a trained counselor. While it can be intimidating to trust someone with our feelings, these counselors offer non-judgmental and compassionate support to every person who contacts them. They are also trained to understand the wide range of emotions that people experience after their abortion(s).
Monday-Friday 9am-12am CT, Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm CT
Talkline advocates are trained to offer emotional support to people before and after an abortion and surrounding other pregnancy options.
Sunday – 4pm-8pm CT, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday – 6pm-12am CT
Counselors provide support to people after an abortion, as well as other individuals in their life who may need support. Support is available in English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), and Bosnian.
Faith Aloud: 888-717-5010
This is a group of trained clergy and religious counselors from various backgrounds. Check out the counseling videos at the website.
Teens are speaking up about their abortions through Youth Testify
Shout Your Abortion
My Abortion. My Life. Podcast
The Abortion Diary Podcast
1 in 3 Campaign: Our Abortions. Our Stories. Our Lives.
If you have concerns about your sexual and reproductive health, our volunteer advocates are available 24/7 at 866-999-5263 and by text 8am-11pm CT to support you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help accessing contraception, STI testing & treatment, or an abortion in Texas.