Health A-Z

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A medical abortion of an early pregnancy usually requires three or more visits to get abortion medication and make sure all the pregnancy tissue has passed. Bleeding related to the abortion may last up to two weeks.

You usually can resume most daily activities within hours after a surgical abortion that uses local anesthesia between 9 and 14 weeks, as long as no sedatives were used. If you received sedatives or were unconscious, as with general anesthesia, don't drive or use dangerous machinery for at least 24 hours. In either case, avoid sexual activity for 2 weeks to prevent infection and to allow the cervix and uterus to return to normal shape and size. Most women are advised to follow up at the doctor's office about 2 weeks after the procedure.

You usually can resume most daily activities a few days to a couple of weeks after a late second trimester abortion, depending on how far along you were in your pregnancy and whether there were complications. You may need to avoid sexual activity for two to six weeks after the procedure. In general, you should visit your doctor about two weeks after the procedure. Your doctor will give you specific advice about resuming daily activities and working based on your circumstances.

Cramps can be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil and others). Cramping may be worse after a late second trimester abortion. After a medical or surgical abortion, you may be told not to use tampons or douches or have sex for at least two weeks. This will help to decrease the risk of an infection of the uterus. Vaginal spotting or bleeding is common for a few days up to one to two weeks after a surgical abortion, depending on how far along the pregnancy was at the time of the abortion.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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