How do I know if I need medical help following an abortion?


Call 911 if you are experiencing severe bleeding, severe abdominal pain, or signs of infection following an abortion. Inform your doctor immediately if you have any symptoms listed below following an abortion:

• Severe bleeding – Both medical and surgical abortions usually cause bleeding that is different from a normal menstrual period. Severe bleeding can mean:
o Passing clots that are bigger than a golf ball, lasting 2 or more hours.
o Soaking more than 2 large pads in an hour, for 2 hours in a row.
o Bleeding heavily for 12 hours in a row.
• Signs of infection in your whole body, such as headache, muscle aches, dizziness, or a general feeling of illness
• Severe infection is possible without fever.
• Severe pain in the abdomen that is not relieved by pain medicine, rest,or heat
• Hot – a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher that lasts longer than 4 hours
• Vomiting lasting more than 4 to 6 hours
• Sudden abdominal swelling or rapid heart rate
• Vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad
• Pain, swelling, or redness in the genital area
• An ectopic pregnancy caused from a fertilized egg growing in the fallopian tube
o An abortion was performed surgically or chemically, but the embryo was not aborted (a “failed abortion”).
o While EC (Emergency Contraceptive or MAP, the Morning after Pill) are “causal,” there is documentation of ectopic or          tubal pregnancies associated with the use of EC or MAP.
o Instead, the embryo continued to grow inside the fallopian tube.
o The pain that occurs is described as post-operative discomfort.
o Cramping occurs after the abortion.
o Eventually the baby will grow too big for the tube and the tube will burst.
o A ruptured tube is a medical emergency.
o Note: Conditions other than a failed abortion can lead to an ectopic pregnancy.

The following symptoms are not a medical emergency, but do need medical diagnosis and treatment:

  • Bleeding (not spotting), for longer than 2 weeks
  • New, unexplained symptoms that may be caused by medicines used in your treatment
  • No menstrual period within 6 weeks after the procedure
  • Signs and symptoms of depression
  • Hormonal changes after a pregnancy can cause depression that requires treatment.

The link directly above ( describes Emergency Contraception use followed by an ectopic, or tubal pregnancy.

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