FAQ: Abortion Care and Recovery

Find your care

You receive customized family planning services in a caring environment. Call 310-825-5961 to connect with a family planning expert. For general OB/GYN care, you can call 310-825-7955.

When can I resume my normal activities after the procedure?

You should go home and rest after the procedure. Resume normal activities the following day or whenever you feel ready. Avoid activity that causes increased pain.

If you receive oral relaxation or narcotic pain medications for the procedure, don't drive a car for eight hours. If you receive intravenous (IV) medications during the procedure, don't drive a car for 24 hours. If you need a note or documentation for work/school, let our clinic staff know.

Will I bleed or cramp?

You may bleed off and on for up to four weeks after the procedure, depending on what method you chose and your gestational age. The flow may vary from very light to fairly heavy. It may increase with exercise and decrease with rest. Small blood clots are normal. Clots can appear red to dark purple. Use sanitary pads only, not tampons, for bleeding after the procedure. This makes it easier to track how much bleeding you are having.

You may experience cramps for a few days. Some patients experience an episode of heavy bleeding and cramps four to six days after the procedure. IF YOU ARE ALREADY A PATIENT OF OURS: call the UCLA hospital operator at 310-825-6301 and ask for the gynecologist on call if bleeding is prolonged or extremely heavy. Blood-tinged discharge is common as bleeding slows. Discharge may appear as yellow or brown and may have a sour odor.

To relieve cramps, take ibuprofen (up to 800 mg every six hours) or Tylenol (up to 1,000 mg every four hours). Rest, as well as using a hot water bottle or heating pad on the abdomen, can help.

What if I still feel pregnant?

Pregnancy symptoms of nausea, vomiting and weariness usually cease within three days. Breast tenderness may take seven to 10 days to disappear.

Depending on your gestational age at the time of the procedure, your breasts may feel firm and tender and leak fluid after your procedure. Your breasts will return to normal after three to four days of swelling. You will feel more comfortable if you wear a supportive bra and apply cold ice packs to your breasts. Take ibuprofen or Tylenol, if necessary, for pain. If you still feel pregnant after a week, call your health care provider.

What complications may occur?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call to talk to a doctor or nurse.

  • Fever over 100 degrees or chills
  • Excessive bleeding (soaking two pad per hour for two straight hours)
  • Bad cramps/prolonged abdominal pain that is NOT relieved by ibuprofen or Tylenol or your prescribed medications

A provider can be reached at any time:

  • Monday to Thursday 8am-5pm, Friday 8am-4:30pm at (310) 267-4311 (West Medical nurse line)
  • Nights, weekends and holidays, page a doctor by calling (310) 825-6301 and asking to page the gynecologist on call.

How can I prevent infection?

To decrease the chance of pelvic infection, please follow these instructions:

  • Take your antibiotic medication as directed.
  • Don't have vaginal intercourse and don't insert anything, including tampons, in your vagina for two weeks with one exception: if you use NuvaRing as your birth control, you may insert it after the procedure.
  • Do not douche, take baths or swim for two weeks after your procedure. You may shower, but do not sit in a tub of water.

After the procedure, when will my period begin?

Your next menstrual period should begin four to seven weeks after the procedure. You can get pregnant before then, and it is recommended that you use birth control when you resume sexual intercourse if you are not planning a pregnancy immediately. Your first few cycles may be irregular.

If you use a cyclic hormonal birth control method — such as the pill, patch or ring — you can start the method the same day as your procedure. Your next period will then occur during the fourth week of the contraceptive cycle.

Should I schedule a follow-up appointment?

It is recommended that you schedule a follow-up appointment approximately two weeks after your procedure to confirm that your procedure is completed and that you are healing well. This is typically done via video visit. Your doctor can give you a prescription for birth control at your follow-up appointment if you want.

Will my insurance cover this/what does it cost?

Many insurance plans, including all forms of Medi-Cal, cover abortion services. If your plan does not cover abortion, or you do not want to use your insurance, contact our office for a quote.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.