Signs You Should Immediately Call a Doctor After an Abortion

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Serious problems are rare, but there are always risks.

One in four women will have an abortion by the time they're 45.

Abortion is a safe way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Though there aren't many side effects associated with having one, there are always some risks.

Dr. Gillian Dean, Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood, was kind enough to break down some of the complications that can arise after having one.

What Are the Different Types of Abortions?

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Before we get into the signs something went wrong with your abortion, we must first discuss the different types of abortions. There are two categories of abortion: medication and in-clinic.

Medication Abortion

This is also referred to as the abortion pill. A trained doctor or nurse will administer the medication to you to end an early pregnancy, sort of like a miscarriage. One pill will be provided at the health center, then you'll need to take a second pill 1 to 2 days later when you're at home. It generally takes about 24 hours for the abortion to work, but you'll want to follow up with a doctor after to make sure everything went according to plan. Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, this procedure is between 93% to 98% effective.

In-Clinic Abortion

This type of abortion is done in a health center by a trained doctor or nurse who use medical instruments and gentle suction to end the pregnancy. It usually takes around 10 minutes for the entire procedure, but it make take a bit longer, depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy. This procedure is almost always effective, working 99% of the time.

Is an Abortion Safe?

Planned Parenthood continually stays up-to-date with their medical standards and guidelines through new medical research and updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Long story short, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures out there.

"Abortion is very safe," Dr. Dean urges. "Serious problems are rare, but like all medical procedures, there are some risks. Your doctor or health care center staff will give you written after-care instructions and a phone number you can call with any questions about side effects or other concerns. Be sure to follow all of your health care provider’s directions during and after your abortion."

What Are Some Serious Complications of a Medication Abortion?

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Again, there are rarely ever any complications with abortion, but they do happen. If you experience any of the following after a medication abortion, Dr. Dean urges you to call your doctor or health care center right away:

•heavy bleeding from your vagina that soaks through more than two maxi pads in an hour, for two or more hours in a row

•large clots (bigger than a lemon) for more than two hours

•belly pain or cramps that don’t get better with pain medication

•a fever of 100.4 or higher more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol

•weakness, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea that lasts for more than 24 hours after taking the misoprostol

What Are Some Serious Complications of an In-Clinic Abortion?

For an in-clinic abortion, Dr. Dean notes to call your doctor or health care center ASAP if you have:

•heavy bleeding from your vagina that soaks through more than two maxi pads in an hour, for two or more hours in a row

•severe pain or discomfort in your belly that doesn’t get better with medication

•a fever of 100.4 or higher

What Should I Do If I Think I'm Still Pregnant?

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If you think you're still pregnant, call your doctor or the 24/7 number that's provided to you after your visit.

"If you have bad-smelling discharge from your vagina or signs that you are still pregnant, call and make an appointment," Dr. Dean states. "If you have any questions or concerns, you can always call the 24/7 number that you get when you have an abortion."

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