Does Abortion Hurt?
Even if you know abortion is the right choice for you and your family, you might be worried about pain during the procedure. Choosing the right abortion clinic can help you ensure that your abortion is as pain-free as possible. Doctors who perform abortions offer a wide range of pain relief options, and you should discuss your pain concerns with the clinic ahead of time. Here’s what you need to know about abortion pain.
Risk Factors for Pain During an Abortion
Every woman is different, but a number of factors may increase your risk of experiencing pain during an abortion. One study identified a number of risk factors that elevate the risk of pain during an abortion:
- A history of depression, especially in patients under 17.
- Abnormalities in the shape of the uterus.
- Severe period cramps.
- Fear about the abortion procedure.
- Moral or social concerns about the abortion.
- A self-reported low pain tolerance.
- A more advanced pregnancy.
This suggests that pain isn’t a purely physical phenomenon. How you feel about your abortion may affect how you interpret the sensations associated with surgery, thereby increasing or decreasing pain. Women who feel anxious about abortion, who are worried about whether their abortion is morally acceptable, or who do not have enough social support should discuss these concerns with the abortion clinic. Some women also benefit from pre-abortion counseling from a pro-choice counselor.
In addition to individual pain perceptions, whether and how much abortion hurts depends on which procedure you choose and how late in pregnancy you have an abortion.
Medical abortion with the abortion pill induces a miscarriage. Many women report period-like cramps before and for a few hours after passing fetal tissue. However, some report no pain at all. You’re more likely to feel pain if it’s later in the pregnancy or you have had very bad period cramps.
With a surgical abortion, a doctor performs surgery to remove the fetal tissue and product of conception. If you’re awake during the procedure, the doctor will probably inject your cervix with a numbing agent. This can pinch, similar to a Pap smear. Thereafter, the cervix will be mostly numb. You won’t feel intense pain, but you may feel sensations similar to period cramps. Some women say that the pain is worse than a bad period; others report no pain, or very mild pain. In either scenario, the procedure only takes a few minutes.
With later term abortions or if you choose not to be awake, you will feel no pain at all. That’s because you’ll be asleep for the procedure. You may have some cramping, similar to a period, when you wake up.
How Long Does Abortion Cramping Last?
Women who experience cramping after an abortion report that it feels a lot like a period. The cramping is usually at its most intense the day of the procedure, then gets a little better each day. Within a few days, there should be no pain at all.
If you notice that the pain suddenly gets worse or feels unbearable, this might be a sign of retained tissue or an infection. These side effects of abortion are rare, and highly treatable with the right medical care. There is no need to panic, because abortion is safe, but contact your abortion clinic or provider.
Abortion Pain Relief Options
An abortion does not have to be painful. With support from your doctor or the abortion clinic staff, you can have an abortion without feeling any pain at all. Some pain relief options include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen. These work very well for post-surgical cramping, as well as for the cramping you might experience with a medical abortion via the abortion pill.
- Sedation. A doctor can sedate you using a drug that keeps you awake, but relaxed and mostly unaware. Most women feel no pain with sedation.
- Full anesthesia. With general anesthesia, you are totally asleep and completely unaware. The only pain you will feel is the brief prick of a needle to inject you with the anesthesia.
- Prescription pain relievers. Very rarely, some women experience pain that they cannot manage with OTC pain relievers. This is more common in late term abortions, or when a woman has a chronic condition such as endometriosis. A doctor can prescribe a stronger pain reliever to ensure you feel no pain.
Abortion opponents want you to fear abortion. The doctors who offer abortion services are skilled surgeons who care deeply about their patients’ well-being. That’s why they’ve committed their lives to doing this difficult work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You deserve to have the best possible experience, and to get reliable answers to all of your questions. If we can help you locate an abortion clinic near you, contact us at 800-455-8130.
To learn more about – does abortion hurt contact an abortion clinic nearest you. Learn about National Abortion Federation.