Is the abortion procedure painful?

The surgical abortion procedure itself is not painful. There are no incisions involved, despite the implications of the term “surgical”. Doctors that perform surgical abortions take the following steps:

  • Issue a general anaesthetic
  • Dilate the cervix
  • Use a suction cup to remove the fetus

Overall, this process generally takes less than five minutes. While most patients experience abdominal pains and mild spotting after the fact, none of this pain should take place during the procedure. This is one of the most prominent myths about abortion.


Will I be in a lot of pain after the abortion procedure?

Most women do not experience severe pain after an abortion procedure, although everyone has a different pain tolerance. However, mild to moderate pain should be expected. Abdominal cramps are very common after an abortion, and can persist as long as two weeks. To avoid more intense pains, refrain from sexual intercourse for two weeks following the procedure.

For patients experiencing moderate pain, we recommend using pain-relieving pills like Motrin. Patients who experience severe or prolonged pain after an abortion should consult their doctor.


If I have an abortion, can I still have children later on in life?

Contrary to popular belief, women who receive an abortion will remain fertile and can choose to have a child later on in life. Only severe abortion complications can compromise a woman’s potential to have a child in the future. The CDC thoroughly studied this issue, concluding that abortion has no effect on subsequent fertility.

In the past, when abortion laws were far more strict, women frequently suffered from complications like uterine perforation, retained placenta, hemorrhage, poisoning, shock, gangrene, and infections. Because abortions are now accessible for more women in the United States, this is no longer the case. With the proper in-clinic care, women undergoing this procedure receive the care they need.


Should I expect bleeding after an abortion? If so, for how long?

Bleeding after an abortion procedure is normal, and should be expected. The extent of the bleeding depends on many factors. Women who receive a surgical abortion may bleed less than they would during a standard menstrual period. Women who take the abortion pill will likely bleed more. However, this can vary from patient to patient.

Generally, women will bleed or spot from 1-4 weeks after the procedure. The extent of the bleeding can vary as well. Occasionally, after the heaviest bleeding stops, some women have persistent light staining for up to a month post-op.


Is it possible to receive an abortion after the first trimester?

Political controversies regarding abortion have led some people to believe that receiving an abortion after the first trimester is impossible. However, that is not the case. Only medical abortions are impossible after the first trimester (12 weeks). Women may receive surgical abortions through the second trimester (24 weeks).


What is a medical abortion?

While surgical abortions were formerly the only option for terminations, that is no longer the case. Rather than involving a doctor performing a hands-on procedure, the medical abortion relies on abortion pills. The first pill, mifepristone, stops the growth of the pregnancy, and is taken in the clinic, under the doctor’s supervision. The second pill, misoprostol, helps the patient to dispel the uterine contents, and is taken at home.

Medical abortions have a proven 97% effectiveness rate, and are not dangerous. After taking the abortion medication, all patients are required to have a follow-up visit, during which the doctor will ensure that the medication was successful.


Should I receive a surgical or medical abortion?

The decision to receive either a surgical or medical abortion is entirely based on personal preference. However, it’s important for each patient to be properly educated about the process and side effects of both.

Surgical: The surgical abortion procedure requires the patient to lie down in the position of a pelvic exam. There is no cutting involved in this procedure. Rather, the doctor uses a sterile suction cup, which is inserted into the cervix, to extract the uterine contents. Overall, this process takes approximately five minutes. Patients who receive a surgical abortion should expect spotting and cramping for about two weeks, and up to four weeks.

Medical: The medical abortion procedure is divided into two phases, with two sets of pills. At the abortion clinic or gynecologist’s office, the patient takes the first set of pills, mifepristone. This halts the growth of the pregnancy. The next day, the patient takes the second set of pills, misoprostol. This medication helps the patient to expel the uterine contents. Like a surgical abortion, women who receive a medical abortion should expect bleeding and cramping. The side effects of a medical abortion tend to be slightly more severe. Medical abortions are around 97% effective.

While the steps involved in each abortion procedure are different, both procedures are very safe. The team at Stony Brook Women’s Health is committed to helping patients make an informed decision.


How long after an abortion can I return to work or school?

Most patients return to work the day after the abortion procedure. The fatigue-related side effects of an abortion tend to wear off after a few hours. Generally, the only other abortion side effect is sporadic bleeding.

Women who experience severe pain, bleeding or a complication may need to take off for several days. Patients who experience severe pain should contact their doctor for a note about missing work (which will not include explicit details).


When can I resume my usual activities?

Most women return to their standard routine the day after the abortion procedure, but often with restrictions.

Women should not do the following:

  • Use tampons
  • Have sex
  • Douche
  • Place anything in the vagina

To avoid infections, you should refrain from all of these activities until cleared at the two-week post-operation check up.


When can I get a medical abortion?

Women may only receive medical abortions up to 12 weeks their last menstrual period. This is equivalent to the first trimester. This window of time is shorter than the surgical procedure because of the heightened potential for side effects.


When can I get a surgical abortion?

Women may receive surgical abortions up to 24 weeks after their last menstrual period. This is equivalent to the second trimester.

After the second trimester, the fetus is considered medically viable. So, it would be possible to sustain the life of the fetus outside the uterus. Abortions performed after this time period have the potential to cause the fetus pain.


When can I take morning-after medication?

Generally, the morning after pill can be taken up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse. However, you can increase the chances of effectiveness by taking this medication within 24 hours.


Are abortion pills and morning after pills the same?

Morning after pills and abortion pills are not the same. Abortion pills terminate a pregnancy, and subsequently dispel it from the uterus. Morning after pills, on the other hand, prevent the pregnancy altogether. This is accomplished by preventing one of three things:

  • Fertilization
  • Ovaries from releasing eggs
  • Fertilized egg from attaching to uterus

In other words, morning after pills are a form of emergency contraception.

Morning after pills are generally available for purchase as over the counter medication. Abortion pills, on the other hand, must be administered by a gynecologist or abortion clinic.


Are online abortion pills legitimate?

No. Pharmacies and medical professionals do everything in their power to prevent abortion pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) from entering circulation. Some people attempt to take advantage of women by selling pills through online marketplaces and other websites. In almost all cases, these pills were either produced unsafely, or are entirely different pills.

Only abortion pills received through a gynecologist or abortion clinic should be considered legitimate.


How long after my abortion will I get my period?

The first menstrual period following an abortion procedure generally takes place after 4-7 weeks. However, it is possible for women to become pregnant before the next menstrual period. It is also normal for women who receive an abortion to bleed or spot for approximately a month after the procedure. It is important to make the distinction between spotting and a menstrual period, as heavy, non-menstrual bleeding long after the procedure is cause for concern.


Do abortions cause mental health issues?

Women of all ages, socioeconomic classes, and stages of life choose to have abortions for many different reasons. Despite the difficulty that some women experience in deciding whether or not to receive an abortion, most women do not have permanent mental health issues after an abortion. In fact, very few women who go through with this procedure ultimately regret it. Mental health issues that are apparent after an abortion are often rooted before the abortion.


Is it more difficult to receive an abortion after the first trimester?

Most abortions take place during the first trimester, and abortions following this period are far less common. This is because dilating the cervix, which allows the doctor to remove tissue, becomes far more challenging. On particularly difficult occasions, the doctor will use a substance called laminaria to moisturize the cervix.

Stony Brook Women’s Health will perform abortion procedures after the first trimester, and through the end of the second.


What insurance policies does your office accept? Is there a copayment for abortion?

Most health insurance policies include terminations as a coverable procedure. Our office accepts all major insurance providers. Our organized, diligent office staff contacts insurance providers to ensure that termination is covered, and to see if there is an additional copayment.

Patients without an insurance policy that covers termination must pay a one-time fee of $550, which covers the patient for all visits through 12 weeks.