Post Abortion Care

Normal Recovery
Following your abortion you may experience one or more of the following:

  • Spotting or bleeding which may be continuous or may start and stop several times over the three weeks following the abortion.
  • No bleeding at all.
  • Passing black, brown, or red blood clots.
  • Cramping (abdominal or back pain)***
  • Slightly elevated temperature (100 degrees or less) for a few days after you abortion.
  • Emotional changes (unusually happy or depressed) for no apparent reason.
  • Discharge from the nipples
  • Disappearance of most pregnancy symptoms within 1 to 7 days
  • Ovulation may occur at any time. Your period will come in 4 to 8 weeks.

***Cramps may be due to contraction of the uterus or to passing blood clots. Deep massage of the abdomen, downward toward the pubic bone, may help pass clots and relieve cramping. A hot water bottle or heating pad usually helps also.

Not Normal Recovery
The following is a list of symptoms that you would not experience in a normal recovery. Please be familiar with this list, and refer to it as needed during your recovery time of two weeks or until your bleeding stops:

  • Bleeding or spotting for more than three weeks after your abortion.
  • Heavy bleeding-soaking through 3 or more thick pads in 3 hours or less.
  • Passing white, gray, or green tissue.
  • Persistence of pregnancy symptoms pas two weeks following your abortion.
  • Cramping so severe that you cannot stand up or continue with normal activities, or if your abdomen is tender when touched.
  • Temperature of 100.4 degrees or more, steady or rising.
  • Unusual, foul smelling discharge from your vagina.
  • No period for more than three months.
  • Severe psychological distress.

If you have any of the NOT NORMAL symptoms, call the Emma Goldman Clinic at (319) 337-2112 so we can help you decide what to do. If you cannot reach us by phone, call a doctor immediately or go to a hospital emergency room. It is important that you tell the doctor you had an abortion because that information is needed in making a correct diagnosis.

Take care of yourself by following these instructions for at least 2 weeks. If bleeding continue past 2 weeks, follow instructions until bleeding stops.


  • Resume normal non-strenuous activities as soon as you wish.
  • Eat healthy and iron-rich foods. Increase your fluid intake during the times you are bleeding.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take your temperature if you feel chilled or hot.
  • To minimize the chance of uterine infection:
  • Use a sanitary napkin rather than a tampon
  • Avoid sexual activity involving vaginal penetration
  • Avoid swimming because swimming may introduce bacteria into the vagina
  • Avoid douches or vaginal sprays
  • Take the antibiotics that were give to you in the recovery room. You should take 1 tablet every 12 hours.


  • Strenuous exercise for 2 to 5 days
  • Alcohol and drugs which may decrease you awareness of complication symptoms.


You may use non-aspirin pain relievers (such as Tylenol, Advil, Nuprin, Midol II, Aleve) to minimize cramping. If you take pain relievers, do allow time between doses to assess the severity of pain and your temperature.

An aftercare check up in 3 weeks is important. Some complications can only be found at the aftercare examination. It is also an ideal time to arrange with your clinic doctor for whatever contraception you desire.

Have a low sensitivity urine pregnancy test three weeks after the abortion to rule out an ongoing pregnancy. This is especially important if the abortion was performed in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy.

If you were given medication in addition to the routine antibiotics, take as directed on the package.

Post Abortion Care Survey:

Surgical Procedure Survey
Non-Surgical Procedure Survey