Instructions for after your procedure

The information on this page is taken from the post-operative instruction sheet which is provided to patients upon their discharge from the clinic.

For the first 24 hours after the procedure

After having an anaesthetic, you must not drive, operate machinery or sign legal documents until the following day.

Most women are able to return to work the day after the procedure.

You must take the prescribed antibiotics to help guard against any infection. It is important that these be taken as directed by the pharmacist. We normally prescribe azithromycin, which is just 2 tablets taken at the same time, on an empty stomach. (at least 2 hours after eating and 1 hour before eating)

If you are going to take the oral contraceptive pill, you should start on the day of your procedure or the following day. Most pills are NOT effective until taken for at least 2 weeks.

For the next two weeks

You should avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting. Aerobics, yoga, and jogging are OK.

To avoid infection

  • You must not have intercourse.
  • You must not swim or have a bath. Showers are OK.
  • Do not use tampons. Use sanitary pads instead.
  • Do not douche.

Bleeding or period-like cramping

Your next period will occur 4 to 8 weeks after the procedure. This period may be slightly heavier and longer than normal.

Post-operative bleeding can be variable after a termination. All of the following scenarios are normal;

  • Only slight bleeding for a day, then no bleeding after that.
  • Slight, or no bleeding for 3 to 5 days, then followed by heavier bleeding or cramping (similar to a mild period) which may last for a few days. (See note)
  • Some women will have mild “spotting” until their next period, 4 – 8 weeks after the termination.

Note * increased bleeding commencing 3 to 5 days post-operatively is not a complication, but is a normal occurrence caused by your uterus shedding a thickened layer of cells which line the inside of your uterus during a pregnancy. This is a similar process to that which occurs during a normal period.

Treatment for mild bleeding and cramping

Mild to moderate bleeding and cramping can be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Neurofen, Ponstan or Naprogestic are effective to reduce uterine bleeding and cramping. Paracetamol and codeine are not as effective with this type of pain. You must read the directions in the packet before use and take with food. Call the clinic for advice if in doubt.

When to call the clinic.

If you experience any of the following, please contact the clinic for advice immediately or go to your nearest hospital casualty if you are unable to contact the clinic for any reason.

  • If, at any time, you saturate one or more maxi-pads per hour for 2 to 3 hours continuously
  • If, at any time you saturate more than 5 pads in 24 hours
  • You have mild, period-like bleeding (not spotting) which continues for more than two weeks after your procedure.
  • You experience severe cramping, but little or no bleeding.
  • You have a temperature above 37.2 deg C. (a raised temperature could indicate infection which would require extra antibiotics)
  • You notice an unusual or offensive vaginal discharge.

If you are concerned about bleeding which has developed overnight but you are not sure if it is urgent, please call us in the morning before you have any food or water. An appointment at the clinic can usually be scheduled at short notice if required for an urgent checkup.

At the Private Clinic, a routine post-operative ultrasound scan is performed on all patients while under anaesthetic. This greatly reduces the possibility of retained tissue which can cause heavy bleeding. On a few occasions however, a blood clot can form in your uterus after the procedure which can become a cause for moderate bleeding. This bleeding will continue until either the clot passes naturally (as is often the case during a normal period) or you may need to attend the clinic for treatment. Sometimes an anaesthetic is required. At the Private Clinic, the risk of requiring a repeat suction procedure is typically less than 1 in 1000 patients.

Pregnancy tests

After an abortion, the pregnancy hormone in your blood will remain in your body for several weeks, decreasing gradually over time. Home pregnancy tests and blood tests can continue to show a positive result for up to 3 to 4 weeks. At the Private Clinic, a post-operative trans-vaginal ultrasound is performed as an extra check to verify that your uterus is empty, however if you are still concerned and have symptoms of pregnancy after 3 weeks, please call the clinic.

Contraception after the procedure

It is possible to fall pregnant during the time between your operation and your next period, so ensure that you are using some form of contraception. Remember that most oral contraceptives need to be taken for at least two weeks before they are effective.

Morning sickness

If you suffered from morning sickness prior to the termination, this should subside soon after the procedure. Some people find that ginger is helpful to ease nausea.

Breast tenderness

Some patients can experience tender breasts 2 to 4 days after a termination of pregnancy. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and can continue to get worse for a week to ten days after the procedure after which time you should begin to improve. If you experience these symptoms, the suggested treatment is;

  • Wear a tight bra for the next 10 days and keep it on for 24 hours each day. (ie. sleep in it). Only take it off to have a quick 5-minute warm shower (not hot).
  • Try not to touch your breasts as this may stimulate milk production.
  • Keep a cabbage in the fridge and peel off leaves and place them against the skin of your breast, under your bra. Change the leaves every 4 hours. Do this for 10 days also.

If you should experience a problem after your operation or if you have any questions;

  • Read your yellow Post-operative instruction sheet¬†
  • Call the clinic on (02) 9690 0000 for advice.
  • If you are unable to contact the clinic and have an urgent medical concern, you should go to your nearest hospital casualty department.