No matter how you feel about your abortion, you probably want to return to normal as soon as possible. Abortion is a safe medical procedure–much safer than giving birth–but like all surgery, it requires some recovery time. So just how long does it take to recover from an abortion before you feel normal?
There’s no one size fits all answer. Most people are able to return to work or school the day after the procedure, but it may take anywhere from a few days to a few months for you to feel back to normal.
Pain and Cramping
Your uterus must contract down to its normal size after an abortion. This process can take a few days to a week or longer. You may notice pain and cramping similar to menstrual cramps. The pain should get steadily better, and should improve with over-the-counter drugs. If the pain is unbearable or does not disappear after a week, call your abortion clinic.
Returning to Sex
It is safe to have sex as soon as you feel physically and emotionally able. Some clinics advise waiting two weeks to reduce the risk of infection, but this risk is minimal. Talk to your doctor about what feels right to you.
With fertility, there are no guarantees and no one size fits all solutions. Getting pregnant once doesn’t mean you’ll ever get pregnant again; going years without getting pregnant doesn’t mean you’re infertile. You can get pregnant as soon as you ovulate again. This happens before your period returns, which means you should assume you are fertile from the moment the procedure is over. On average, it takes a few weeks for fertility to return after abortion. And don’t worry; there is no evidence that abortion causes infertility.
Bleeding tends to last longer than most other abortion symptoms. The further along you were in your pregnancy, the longer and heavier you can expect to bleed. In general, bleeding should slow down within a week or two, and should disappear entirely within four weeks. If bleeding stops and then starts again, or is very heavy, call your doctor. If you pass multiple golf ball-sized blood clots, or soak more than two pads in an hour for more than two hours, go to the emergency room.
The most common emotion people report after an abortion is relief. Research consistently shows better mental health outcomes among people who seek abortions compared to those denied abortions. Post-abortion syndrome is a myth. That doesn’t mean that everyone feels great right after an abortion.
There are a wide range of emotional reactions to abortion–all of them normal. If you terminated a wanted pregnancy for medical reasons, you may grieve your abortion like a death. If your abortion was physically traumatic or you did not get the kind of care you wanted, you may continue to feel a variety of emotions in the months following the procedure. But for most other abortions, the emotional fallout is minimal.
If you are struggling with your abortion decision, visit our list of pro-choice post-abortion support resources. Speak with your chosen abortion provider and ask them how long does it take to recover from an abortion.