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Bleeding during a medical abortion

Bleeding during a medical abortion

Bleeding during a medical abortion can be a cause for concern for many women. While it is a normal part of the process, it is crucial to understand what to expect and when to seek medical help.

A medical abortion, also known as the abortion pill, is a safe and effective option for terminating a pregnancy early on. It involves taking medications to induce a miscarriage. Bleeding is a common side effect of this procedure and is usually heavier and more prolonged than a typical period. The severity and duration of bleeding can vary from woman to woman, but generally, it can be expected to last for several days to a few weeks.

However, it is essential to know when bleeding during a medical abortion may indicate a problem and when it is necessary to seek medical advice. While some clotting and cramping are expected, there are specific signs that warrant medical attention:

  1. Heavy bleeding: If you are soaking through more than two pads or tampons in an hour for more than two hours, it is considered heavy bleeding. This can indicate excessive blood loss and may require immediate medical assistance.
  2. Persistent bleeding: If bleeding continues for more than two weeks or suddenly stops and then starts again, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider. Prolonged bleeding can sometimes be a sign of an incomplete abortion.
  3. Severe pain: While cramping and discomfort are expected during a medical abortion, severe pain that does not improve with pain medication can be a sign of a complication, such as an infection or an ectopic pregnancy. If you experience severe or persistent pain, it is crucial to seek medical advice.
  4. Foul-smelling discharge or fever: If you notice a foul odor coming from your vagina or experience a fever above 100.4°F (38°C), it could indicate an infection. In such cases, it is essential to contact a healthcare professional promptly.

If you are unsure whether your bleeding is normal or have any concerns about your medical abortion, always reach out to a healthcare provider. They are trained to assess your specific situation and provide appropriate guidance. It is important not to rely solely on advice from the internet or friends, as individual circumstances can vary.

While waiting for professional assistance, there are a few steps you can take to manage bleeding during a medical abortion. It may be helpful to:

  1. Use sanitary pads: Avoid using tampons, as they can increase the risk of infection. Using hygienic pads allows you to monitor the amount and nature of your bleeding.
  2. Rest and stay hydrated: Ensure that you get plenty of rest and drink fluids to maintain hydration. This can help your body recover and cope with the physical changes during the abortion process.
  3. Avoid strenuous activities: Heavy physical activity, such as lifting heavy objects or exercising vigorously, can increase bleeding. It is advisable to take it easy until your body has fully recovered.

Remember, everyone’s experience with a medical abortion is unique, so it is essential to listen to your body and seek medical advice when necessary. Healthcare providers are there to offer support, answer your questions, and ensure your safety and well-being throughout the process.


Dr. Kopp Kallner. M.D. in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Columbia University Medical School.

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