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If you are considering a termination of pregnancy, you may have concerns about what to expect after the procedure. One of your worries may relate to whether you will experience pain afterwards. While every woman’s experience of a pregnancy termination is different, it is usual to experience a degree of pain, but the intensity of this varies from one woman to another. While it is possible to manage this pain using over-the-counter painkillers, you should monitor your pain, as in a minority of cases this may indicate an infection.
Whether you have a medical or surgical termination, it is typical to have cramping pains intermittently for around a week after pregnancy termination. You can take paracetamol or codeine to manage this pain, though you should avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, as these increase the risk of heavy bleeding. You may find that a warm bath is another helpful way to ease the pain, but if you underwent a general anaesthetic to have your abortion, you should take care in the 24 hours following surgery and have someone with you for a day afterwards, as the anaesthetic can still make you drowsy hours later. Resting for a day or two after your termination may also help you to manage the discomfort, and while you should feel well enough to resume usual activities within a couple of days, every woman is different. Besides abdominal pain, if you are having a later termination, you may suffer with breast pain afterwards as well, though the same painkillers will offer relief and wearing a supportive bra will also help you to cope with this extra pain.
While you are prescribed antibiotics to reduce the risk of an infection after your pregnancy termination, this is still a possibility, and heightened pain can signal a possible infection. Other measures to reduce your risk of infection include using sanitary pads rather than tampons to manage your blood loss and avoiding sex till you stop bleeding. However, if you are concerned by your level of pain and you also experience a high temperature, unusual discharge or heavy bleeding, you should seek medical advice, owing to the likelihood that you have an infection. Although antibiotics can treat your infection, it is important that you don’t delay getting help, as if your infection remains untreated, this makes you more likely to develop a serious infection such as pelvic inflammatory disease. This can have serious consequences for your future reproductive health, as pelvic inflammatory disease causes damage to your fallopian tubes. As a result, it can make it harder for sperm to fertilize your eggs, increasing your risk of fertility. That’s not all though, as if fertilization does occur, implantation is more likely to occur within the fallopian tube, leading to an ectopic pregnancy, which is both non-viable and potentially life-threatening to you as the mother. However, these risks are greatly minimised by following guidance to reduce the chance of infection after pregnancy termination and seeking prompt treatment if you are concerned you may have the signs of an infection.
You may not just be worried about the physical pain of a termination, but the emotional pain that may go with it. Your emotions after a pregnancy termination will usually depend on the reasons for ending your pregnancy and whether you felt comfortable with your decision. It’s also common to feel a mix of emotions, so you may feel relieved after the procedure, but sad at the same time. However, having a termination should not leave you with any lasting emotional problems, as feelings of guilt, regret and sadness rarely linger. It’s also reassuring that an uncomplicated termination should not affect your ability to conceive or carry a healthy pregnancy in the future, so knowing this can help to ease any worries that you may have surrounding this. One factor that may influence how long you suffer emotionally after an abortion is your pre-existing mental health, as if you have a history of issues that affect your mental wellness, you may find that an unplanned pregnancy and termination trigger a relapse. If you are struggling emotionally after ending a pregnancy though, discussing your feelings with your doctor will allow you to receive specialist advice and support.