After an abortion

Generally, abortion is a safe and very common procedure. But, there are some side effects and risks for both medical and surgical abortions. Staff at your local health board abortion service will give you:

  • a 24 hour contact number to call if you’ve any concerns
  • advice about the symptoms that mean you should go straight to hospital

You may also be given a special pregnancy test to take 14-21 days after your abortion. This is to confirm that the pregnancy has ended.

Read more about the types of abortion

Common side effects

Whether you’ve a surgical or medical abortion, you’ll experience bleeding. This bleeding normally continues for up to 2 weeks, depending on how many weeks pregnant you were. This bleeding will feel like a period.

After an abortion, you may be advised to sanitary pads rather than tampons while the bleeding continues. It’s also recommended to wait until the bleeding has stopped before you have sex again. This is because you’re at a slightly increased risk of infection.

Other common side effects that you may experience during and after your abortion include:

It’s also common to experience stomach cramps and pain. These normally lasts for 2 to 3 days, but should get less painful each day.

Contact your local health board abortion service if, 24 hours after your abortion, you’re:

  • having significant symptoms other than bleeding and stomach cramps
  • bleeding very heavily (much more than a heavy period)
  • having symptoms of an infection, like fever, abdominal pain that is getting worse, or smelly discharge

Risk of infection

After an abortion, the main risk is infection in the uterus (womb). This is caused by leftover pregnancy tissue that hasn’t been removed or passed.

An infection after abortion may cause you to:

  • bleed heavily
  • have discharge from your vagina
  • have lower abdominal pain

Antibiotics will be used to treat an infection.

If an infection is not treated, it could result in a more severe infection of your reproductive organs. This could include pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause infertility or ectopic pregnancy.

The risk of an infection can be reduced by taking antibiotics at the time of a surgical abortion.

Contact your local health board abortion service immediately if:

  • you think you may have an infection following an abortion

Mental wellbeing

It’s always important to seek help and support if you’re feeling distressed about your abortion. You can feel a range of emotions after an abortion. It can be difficult to talk to a partner, family or friends. Contact your local health board abortion service if you’d like to talk things through after an abortion. They can refer you for post-abortion counselling.


You can become pregnant from unprotected sex as soon as 5 days after an abortion.

Your local health board abortion service will give you information on different methods of contraception, and help you find the right one for you. You may also be offered some methods of contraception at the time of your abortion.

Your GP or local sexual and reproductive health service can also discuss contraception.

Read more about contraception

Last updated:
29 February 2024