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Is Abortion Painful?

Abortion can be painful, but the pain level is dependent on several factors, including:

  • The woman’s individual pain tolerance
  • The abortion procedure used
  • The medications offered
  • The complications that may arise

Pain Tolerance

Every woman has a unique pain tolerance. Some women might find abortion painful, while others might describe the pain as discomfort. No one can predict how a woman will respond to abortion, but how she has handled pain in the past can indicate how she might react to the pain from abortion.

Medical Abortion

A medical abortion uses drugs to terminate a pregnancy. These drugs end the pregnancy by cutting off its supply of progesterone, a hormone the body produces that supports the pregnancy. The medication then causes the uterus to contract (squeeze), forcing the contents through the vagina.

 According to the Mayo Clinic, typical responses to the drugs can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

 Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen may be suggested for pain management. 

Surgical Abortion

There are different types of surgical abortion procedures. Typically, a surgical abortion involves a provider using tools or medication to open the cervix (the opening of the uterus) and using surgical instruments and/or suction to remove the pregnancy from a woman’s uterus. 

According to Medscape, most surgical abortion procedures are performed under local anesthesia.  Some abortion clinics offer general sedation during a surgical abortion for an increased cost. For pain after the procedure, women are usually directed to take an over-the-counter NSAID like ibuprofen.

Potential Complications

Like all medical procedures, abortion has risks. Abortion risks can be considered painful depending on the individual. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the risks of abortion can include the following:

  • Incomplete abortion
  • Heavy bleeding that will not stop
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and digestive pain
  • Allergic reaction to the medications
  • Uterine perforation during a surgical abortion (a hole poked through the uterus)

Get More Info

When considering an abortion, it is wise to learn about the procedure and associated risks. To learn more about your options and receive important services prior to an abortion, contact Avenue Women’s Center for a free appointment.

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.