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Is Abortion Painful? 

It’s normal to have lots of questions when deciding what to do about a pregnancy you weren’t expecting. A common question women have when exploring their options includes, “Is abortion painful?”  

There are many types of pain, and how individuals perceive pain is unique to them. So, if you’re wondering if having an abortion will be painful, keep reading to learn more about the pain that can accompany abortion. 

Physical Pain of Abortion

Medical abortion and surgical abortion are procedures that commonly cause women varying degrees of pain or discomfort. We will examine the pain associated with medical abortion first. 

1. Medical abortion pain

A medical abortion ends an unwanted pregnancy by taking medication. At first glance, it sounds like the “easier” way to have an abortion, but medical abortions can be very difficult. So before moving forward, be sure to do your own research. You can ask trusted friends about their experiences and search unbiased sites such as Mayo Clinic to learn about side effects and risks, which include: 

  • Strong cramping 
  • Bleeding – passing clots 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Headache 

Women report that pain is the most challenging aspect of having a medical abortion. According to a 2020 Scandinavian research study, 57.7% of women experienced severe pain during a medical abortion. And 93.5% of women in that study stated that they needed more pain medication in addition to the pain medication taken before their medical abortions to reduce their pain levels. 

The source of the pain in having a medical abortion is typically the intense cramping the abortion medications cause to expel the pregnancy. You can also expect to experience period-like cramping for a couple of weeks afterward until your uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size.  

To reduce medical abortion pain, you may be advised to take over-the-counter pain relievers. The abortion provider may prescribe a stronger pain reliever if that isn’t sufficient. You can also try uterine massage, a heating pad, and rest. 

2. Surgical abortion pain

Women say they suffer less pain during a surgical abortion in early pregnancy than with a medical abortion. During a medical abortion, you can experience severe cramping for up to 24 hours while the pregnancy is expelled, whereas the surgical abortion process is 5-10 minutes using an anesthetic. 

Women also report experiencing more pain the further along they are in their pregnancy. Like medical abortion, you can expect uterine cramps afterward until your uterus returns to normal. 

Emotional and Spiritual Pain of Abortion

Physical pain is usually the first thing that comes to mind when a woman considers abortion, however, we are all physical, emotional, and spiritual beings, so it’s also essential to address the emotional and spiritual pain that accompanies abortion.  

Being afraid can cause you to feel more physical pain, so it’s critical that you understand the abortion process and what to expect before making your decision. In addition, honestly answer these thought-provoking questions – and don’t be afraid of your answers!  

Ask yourself: 

  • Am I likely to regret my decision after my circumstances change? 
  • Is anyone pressuring me to have an abortion? 
  • Is my decision coming from a place of fear? 
  • Do I still need to examine all of my options thoroughly? 
  • Might another option be better for me? 
  • Do I have a faith background that conflicts with an abortion decision? 
  • Do I feel rushed into making a decision? 

If you answer yes to any of the above questions but still have an abortion, you raise your risk of increased pain – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. According to mental health professionals, women may feel a sense of relief soon after an abortion, but sadness, guilt, shame, regret, depression, or other difficult emotions arise later.  

Women often don’t feel they have the right to grieve the loss that accompanies abortion, but abortion is a significant loss that deserves to be acknowledged, grieved, and healed.   

If you have difficulty coping after an abortion, please know that you are not alone and support is available. 

Receive the Support You Deserve

Are you thinking about abortion for your unexpected pregnancy? At Corbella Clinic, we offer support that empowers YOU to make the best decision for you and your future. 

Our licensed healthcare professionals can answer all of your questions without judgment or bias. In addition, we can provide you with pre-abortion medical services at no cost, which will give you the information you need to make a confident choice about your pregnancy.  

You are beautifully strong and capable! Contact us today for your confidential appointment

Resources: 

Dragoman, M. V., Grossman, D., Kapp, N., Huong, N. M., Habib, N., Dung, D. L., & Tamang, A. (2016). Two prophylactic medication approaches in addition to a pain control regimen for early medical abortion?<?63 days’ gestation with mifepristone and Misoprostol: Study protocol for a randomized, controlled trial. Reproductive Health, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12978-016-0246-5 

Drake, K. (2021, August 26). Are you grieving after an abortion? Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/depression/understanding-abortion-grief-and-the-recovery-process#signs-of-grief 

Kemppainen, V., Mentula, M., Palkama, V., & Heikinheimo, O. (2020). Pain during medical abortion in early pregnancy in teenage and adult women. Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 99(12), 1603–1610. https://doi.org/10.1111/aogs.13920 

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