Having an abortion is not a decision that any woman takes lightly. It can be an extremely emotional decision to make, and it’s natural that having decided that an abortion is right for you, you will experience some nerves or concern about the process.

One of the most common questions women ask is “does abortion hurt?”

The simplest answer to this question is that having an abortion can feel different for everyone. Some women do experience some pain, while others feel just a small amount of discomfort, and pain may be treated.

Does Abortion Hurt?

Whether or not abortion will hurt, and how uncomfortable it may be for you, depends on a variety of factors. These include:

  • The type of abortion you have – medical versus surgical
  • Your overall health
  • Underlying medical conditions
  • Your general tolerance to pain
  • Your stress level and emotions
  • How far along the pregnancy is

The majority of women find that the pain experienced with abortion is comparable to having strong menstrual cramps, which is only for a short time.

Before your abortion, you’ll have a consultation with your doctor and other medical professionals in the clinic to discuss your decision, your options, and your general health. You will be given detailed information and instructions for self-care over the following days.

Medical Abortion

Medical abortions may be provided up to 63 days (9 weeks) from the first day of your last period. Your doctor will provide you with two medications. These medications block the pregnancy hormones and then cause the uterus to contract to expel the pregnancy. This can take a few hours and most women will complete the abortion within 6 hours of taking the second dose of medication. The process induces vaginal bleeding which is usually quite heavy, and you will also pass some large clots – so you will need to use pads. Bleeding usually settles after a few days, but light bleeding or spotting may continue for up to two weeks or more.

Medical abortions can also cause the following symptoms for one to two days:

  • Cramping (mild to moderate to severe)
  • Bleeding (mild to moderate to severe)
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Low-grade fever or chills
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea

Your doctor may advise you to take an over the counter anti-inflammatory drug to help with the cramping. They may prescribe stronger painkillers or anti-nausea medications if you’re likely to need them.

It may be helpful if you:

  • Schedule the medical abortion when you can stay home for a couple of days. The process takes over 36-48 hours to complete.
  • Wear loose clothing for the first couple of days
  • Use a heat pack on your abdomen and/or lower back
  • Rest as comfortably as you can
  • Take a long, warm shower

Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortions are carried out in the doctor’s clinic as a day-only procedure. Your doctors and nurses will make you as comfortable as possible, with reassurance, local anaesthetic, and pain medications.

You will be given an intravenous sedative so that you are asleep throughout the process. You’re not likely to remember any part of the procedure, whilst under the effects of the sedation, and you will need someone to drive you home and best to have someone stay with you for the rest of the day and night.

After you are asleep, the procedure begins as does any pelvic exam. Numbing medication will be applied to the cervix and the cervix will be gently dilated. The doctor then uses a small sterile plastic disposable flexible tube to empty the pregnancy contents with gentle suction from the uterus, and then it is checked that the pregnancy has been removed from the uterus.

You may have some cramping straight after the abortion, and this can last up to 1-2 weeks on and off and is likely well treated with oral analgesia. The uterus contracts mostly between day 3-6 post-operatively as it is reducing its size to its pre-pregnancy state. You will also most likely experience some vaginal bleeding; this may or may not be like a normal period and some women may not bleed at all.

It’s a good idea, if possible, to take it easy for a few days, however, most women feel close to normal the next day after a surgical abortion.

Important: A lot of women understandably express concern about whether the embryo can experience pain. According to large numbers of scientific and medical research, and according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the answer is no, the embryo does not experience any pain from abortion. This is because the complex neural pathways required to process pain signals do not develop until at least the 24th week of pregnancy.

At Gynaecology Centres Australia, the latest we perform a surgical abortion is up to Week 13-14 (the end of the first trimester).

Gynaecology Centres Australia – OPEN AS USUAL

Gynaecology Centres Australia is OPEN AS USUAL in all five of our locations: Sydney, Newcastle, Gosford, Wollongong, and Canberra.

Women’s health services, including abortion services, are considered as essential services and we are open despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We are taking our responsibilities in terms of COVID-19 extremely seriously and we have enhanced our infection control practices with additional precautions implemented throughout our clinics.

If you are seeking an abortion or wish to discuss your options, please contact us today for a compassionate and confidential consultation on 02 9585 9599 or contact us online.