I'm bleeding after a medical abortion
After taking your second set of tablets
- You'll experience bleeding and some cramping, although this may not happen straight away. It's very important you use pads and not tampons to avoid infection.
- You'll be advised to take pain relief in the form of paracetamol and/or ibuprofen. You can apply a warm pad or (warm) hot water bottle to your abdomen if this makes you more comfortable. Please do not take aspirin.
- The cramps may become strong - this is a normal part of the abortion process.
- Bleeding may get heavier and you may pass clots. This is usually at the time that you'll begin to lose your pregnancy.
- Often the pregnancy is passed into the toilet, you may not see it specifically, and this may appear as a clot.
- Side effects of the medication can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and shivering. The onset of these symptoms can be fairly soon after taking the medication, so you need to plan your journey home.
- Once the pregnancy has been passed, your bleeding will usually lessen and become like a slightly heavier period. It may continue to be quite heavy for a day or two as the uterus needs to contract and return to its normal size. If heavy bleeding occurs for more than two days, or you are soaking more than two pads per hour for two hours or more, call our helpline for advice.
- The abortion may take place within four to five hours and is usually completed within one to two days. Very occasionally, it can take up to two weeks to pass the pregnancy.
- We recommend that you arrange a lift home before taking your second tablets and do not attempt to drive yourself or take public transport.
Once the pregnancy has passed the pain will stop for a time, but as the pregnancy hormones start to drop during the next ten days you may feel more pain as the uterus contracts back to its normal non-pregnant size. This pain can be constant or come and go and can last up to two weeks.
You may feel pain in your back, or the top of your legs. You may also feel pain while going to the toilet. This is normal.
In all of these cases you can use the following:
Painkillers: We recommend you purchase some Ibuprofen and some Paracetamol, or Paracetamol with codeine over the counter. You can also take Ibuprofen with codeine or Naproxen. Do not however take any medication that contains aspirin.
You can take your painkillers with your contraceptive pill and antibiotics, and if you have an implant, contraceptive injection or coil. If you're unable to take Ibuprofen because you are asthmatic, on anti-depressants, have a history of stomach ulcers/bleeding, renal failure or allergy; please take your normal pain medication. If you're unsure, please call our 24hr aftercare line and speak to a nurse.
Heat: A hot water bottle or microwave heat pad placed on your lower abdomen can help with pain relief. Be careful not to place the hot water bottle or heat pad directly onto bare skin to avoid getting burned. Follow manufacturers’ instructions for heating the pad in the microwave. Do not have a warm bath or shower on the day you have a surgical treatment however.
Distraction: You may find it helpful to have someone to distract and talk to you.
If pain is severe and not responding to painkillers, please call our nurse aftercare line on 0345 122 1441 for further assessment and advice.