Aftercare Instructions for Surgical Abortions

At South Avenue Women’s Services Rochester, NY office, we provide the necessary care and guidance through each step of the abortion process, assisting you in your post medical and surgical care. Here, in Question-and-answer format, are instructions for you about what to expect, and how to take care of yourself, after a surgical abortion, otherwise known as surgical care.

Bleeding: How much is normal, and when should I call the doctor?

Vaginal bleeding is normal after an abortion. It may be heavy or light, and may last from a few days to as long as three weeks. The bleeding will eventually stop. The bleeding may increase with activity level. You may pass small clots or fragments of tissue. These do not need to be saved, and should be flushed down the toilet. You may expect your normal menstrual period about four to six weeks from the abortion.

You should call the doctor’s office if:

  • You soak two full-size pads in an hour.
  • You pass several clots the size of a walnut or larger.
  • You are feeling weak, faint, or dizzy with the bleeding.

Cramping: How much is normal, and when should I call the doctor?

Some cramping is normal after an abortion, but should subside gradually over hours or a few days. You may take Advil, Tylenol, or use a heating pad to relieve cramps.

You should call the doctor’s office if:

  • You have severe cramping or if the cramping is getting worse.

When may I resume normal activities, and are there any activities that I should not do?

We recommend that you rest the day of the procedure, especially if you have received IV sedation. Resume normal activities gradually as you feel ready. Most women are able to go to work, school, and have moderate exercise the day after an abortion. You may bathe or shower as you wish. You should use sanitary pads instead of tampons for two weeks.

Here are the activities that you should not do:

  • If you have received IV sedation, you should not drive or operate any machinery for 24 hours.
  • You should not put anything in the vagina for two weeks.
  • You should not have intercourse for two weeks.

What are the signs of infection?

We recommend that you take your temperature twice a day (morning and evening) for three days after an abortion. Take your temperature before you take any pain medication such as Tylenol or Advil.

You should call the doctor’s office if:

  • You have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher for more than two hours.
  • You have a temperature of 102 degrees.
  • You have a foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
  • You have severe or increasing pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen.

What about sexual intercourse and birth control?

We recommend that you abstain from intercourse for two weeks after the abortion. You will ovulate two to four weeks after an abortion, so you can get pregnant again even before you have a normal period. You must use some form of birth control from the very first intercourse after the abortion.

We will be glad to discuss birth control with you, and prescribe any method you wish that is medically sound. We prescribe the birth control pill, the Depo shot, the patch, the ring, and we insert IUDs. In general, the sooner you start the better. We also encourage you to use foam and/or condoms, for the extra protection against pregnancy and the protection against STDs. We can provide you with “morning-after” contraception in case of unprotected intercourse or a method failure such as a broken condom.


What emotional reactions are normal following an abortion?

Most women will feel a variety of reactions and emotions after an abortion. These are completely normal, and will resolve over a short period. Many women feel a sense of relief when it is over, and are then able to move on with their lives. Some women feel sadness, grief, anger, or a sense of loss. All of these reactions or feelings are normal, and are part of the resolution and healing process. It is often helpful to talk to someone close to you about these feelings. If you have disturbing thoughts about the abortion, or negative feelings that will not go away you should consider counseling. If you wish, we will assist you in finding a counselor to help you cope with and resolve these issues.


What about a follow-up visit?

We recommend a follow-up visit in one to two weeks. We will check you to make sure that everything is OK, and we will make sure that you have a good birth control plan. We can discuss any aspect of the experience that you are unclear about. Although we are happy to see you (at no extra charge) you may see your regular doctor if you wish, especially if you come from a distance. We will be glad to send your regular doctor a letter (with your permission of course) providing pertinent medical aspects of the abortion. If your doctor referred you to us, we recommend this common courtesy between doctors.


Call us for emergencies (day or night) at the following number: 585-271-3850

Call for:

  • Very heavy bleeding
  • Severe or increasing pain
  • Fever
  • Any other scary or potentially dangerous situationWe will see you promptly in our office, or instruct you to go to the hospital emergency room. If you have a serious emergency and cannot come to the hospital in Rochester, then you must go to the nearest emergency room.